Wed | Oct 18, 2017

'Mr Special Olympics' - August Town resident soaring in spite of challenges

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines
Nigel Davis (left), Special Olympics coach, receives his Coach of the Year award from Mark Connolly, UNICEF Jamaica representative, last Friday during the 34th staging of Special Olympics, Jamaica’s National Summer Games.

When Nigel Davis, 40, stepped up to claim the coveted Coach of the Year Award last Friday, during the 34th staging of the Jamaica Special Olympics National Summer Games, it was the culmination of years of hard work through trying circumstances.

"Being a slow learner means you'll have to work harder to realise your dreams, but hard work usually pays," declared the August Town resident, who in his formative years attended Mico Practising Primary and Junior High School, and later Randolph Lopez School of Hope.

"Growing up, persons in the community would tease me because I went to a special school, and people had it that only handicaps go there. Financially, my mother didn't have it while I was growing up, but she always tried. My father would always help me out with snacks or a lunch money in my teenage years as well."

Davis' silver lining came in the 1980s upon a visit to the national arena, where he observed men roller-skating and developed a love affair he has described as "life changing".

"I was so amazed with their energy and the engine-like sound that the shoes made that I approached them and asked how I could join, and that was it. At first, I wasn't able to balance so well, but I eventually got better."

Davis would later be selected to compete at a number of Special Olympics around the world in several sports and would launch his Special Olympian coaching career in the early 2000s.

As a coach, Davis' greatest achievement is having conditioned Romaine Austin and Dave Oddman to historic gold-medal successes at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Austria, in March.

However, his fondest memory on the journey thus far is having started his own skating school in August Town in 2006.

Living his dream

"Nigel Davis Foundation Skating School is me living my dream. I would love the help from some companies to expand it to all parishes. As a result of my development and recognition, the treatment in my community is good now, no trouble. For others like myself I just want to say, don't give up, don't shy away from followering your dreams," stated Davis, who is also formally employed to Parang Industries Limited.

Dane Richardson, chief executive officer of Digicel Foundation, the main sponsors of the Jamaica Special Olympics, declared that Special Olympics continued to inspire persons across the island, with and without disabilities, to give in to a higher calling both for themselves and the country.

In heaping praises upon the sportsman-turned-coach, Executive Director of Special Olympics Jamaica, Lorna Bell, stated that Davis was truly "phenomenal".

"He's Mr Special Olympics. Most persons are not so open to telling others that they're special; he has no problem in admitting to you that he has a disability. There is nothing like acceptance. He has represented Jamaica in every single sport that we offer and he was the torch runner at the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Summer Games, alongside our local police officers. He's very deserving."