South Florida woman uses experience in the Olympic Trials to inspire others in Palm Beach County

A week away from Opening Ceremony in Rio, a local athlete is making the best out of her experience competing in the Olympic Trials, even though she didn’t make the team. And she’s using her age to inspire others to go after their dreams.

Antoinette Wilks is one of the few women in their 30s doing the long jump.

"I'm 35,” says Antoinette. “I don't plan to stop."

Antoinette says she’s never given up on her Olympic dream, which led her to qualifying for the Jamaican Olympic trials this year.

In 2008, she injured her Achilles tendon, missing her best chance to make it to the Olympics. Yet that disappointment didn’t stop her from moving forward. She began to coach middle and high school students, including volunteering to help her little sister’s track team.

"I still had the itch for it,” Antoinette says. “I see them running and I'm out there. I'm like, ‘I can still jump, I'm running, I'm jumping with the kids, I'm doing the hurdles.’"

Antoinette says coaching inspired her to start training again and get herself into the best shape of her life.

Born in Jamaica, Antoinette returned to her native country to see how she measured up against some of the best athletes in the world.

Unfortunately, misfortune struck once again. She had muscle pulls on both of her calves that slowed her just enough to finish fifth in the Jamaican Olympic trials. Only the top three go to Rio.

"I could've gotten top three,” she says, “But I don't know, it was just, it was sad. It was frustrating, sad, and I was happy at the same time just to have the opportunity,"

Now, Antoinette is using her disappointment to inspire others back home in West Palm Beach. Her main goal is to show people that it is never too late to do what they love.

She’s organized an adult-track meet that is first of its kind in the area.

Antoinette is inviting adults to come to the inaugural Healthy Adults Run at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The purpose of the event is to show the community that track is a way to stay healthy, no matter how old you are.

"If I can use this to let people know that I'm 35, and I made it to the Olympic trials, you can make it to whatever goals you're achieving, especially in health and fitness," Antoinette says.

Beginners are welcome. To register, click here.
 

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