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Cleopatra Borel-Brown
OLYMPIAN Shot Putter Cleopatra Borel added another gold medal to T&T's tally at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) in Barranquilla, Colombia August 2018 - CA-images

Cleopatra Borel-Brown

Athlete Info

01 Disciplines Shot Put  
02 Born 3 October 1979, Mayaro, Trinidad  
03 Lives Blacksburg, Virginia, USA  
04 Works Assistant coach at Virginia Tech  
05 Coach Greg Jack  

Personal Bests

space Event Results Year space
01 Shot Put 19.42 2011  
02 Hammer Throw 51.28 2001  
         
         

Yearly Progression

space Year Shot Put  
1 2001 16.87  
2 2002 17.50  
3 2003 17.95 (i)  
4 2004 19.48 (i)  
5 2005 18.44  
6 2006 18.81  
7 2007 18.91  
8 2008 18.87  
9 2009 18.52  
10 2010 19.30  
11 2011 19.42  
12 2012 18.82  
13 2013 17.84  
14 2014 19.13  
15 2015 19.26  
16 2016 18.78  
17 2017 17.96  
18 2018 18.60  
19 2019 17.96  
20 2020 17.47  

Career Highlights

space Year Place Event Meet Mark space
1 2002 4 SP Commonwealth Games (Manchester) 16.27  
2 2003 6 SP Pan American Games (Santo Domingo) 17.23  
3 2003 2 SP CAC Champs (St Georges) 17.79  
4 2004 10 SP Olympic Games (Athens) 18.35  
5 2004 11 SP World Indoors (Istanbul) 18.19  
6 2005 - SP World Champs (Helsinki) 17.31  
7 2005 2 SP CAC Champs (Nassau) 18.05  
8 2006 7 SP World Indoors (Moscow) 17.59  
9 2006 3 SP Commonwealth Games (Melbourne) 17.87  
10 2006 3 SP CAC Games (Cartagena) 18.33  
11 2007 3 SP Pan American Games (Rio de Janeiro) 18.22  
12 2007 - SP World Champs (Osaka) 17.29  
13 2007 1 SP NACAC Champs (San Salvador) 17.53  
14 2008 - SP Olympic Games (Beijing) 17.96  
15 2008 7 SP World Indoors (Valencia) 18.47  
16 2008 1 SP CAC Champs (Cali) 18.39  
17 2009 - SP World Champs (Berlin) 17.99  
18 2009 3 SP CAC Champs (Havana) 17.98  
19 2010 2 SP Commonwealth Games (New Delhi) 19.03  
20 2010 11 SP World Indoors (Doha) 18.31  
21 2010 1 SP CAC Games (Mayaguez) 18.76  
22 2011 13 SP World Champs (Daegu) 17.62  
23 2011 2 SP Pan American Games (Guadalajara) 18.46  
24 2011 1 SP CAC Champs (Mayaguez) 19.00  
25 2012 - SP Olympic Games (London) 18.36  
26 2013 - SP World Champs (Moscow) 17.84  
27 2013 1 SP CAC Champs (Morelia) 17.56  
28 2014 2 SP Commonwealth Games (Glasgow) 18.57  
29 2014 1 SP CAC Games (Xalapa) 18.99  
30 2015 12 SP World Champs (Beijing). 17.43  
31 2015 1 SP Pan American Games (Toronto). 18.67  
32 2016 7 SP Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro) 18.37  
33 2016 4 SP World Indoors (Portland). 18.38  
34 2018 4 SP Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast). 18.05  
35 2018 9 SP World Indoors (Birmingham). 17.80  
36 2018 2 SP NACAC Champs (Toronto) 17.83  
37 2018 1 SP CAC Games (Barranquilla). 18.14  
38 2019 8 SP Pan American Games (Lima). 17.37  
             
Cleopatra Borel-Brown
Cleopatra Borel-Brown with a record of 18.67 meters won gold for Trinidad and Tobago in Shot Put, Toronto July 2015 - AFP

Cleopatra Borel-Brown Biography

Named after her grandmother, Cleopatra Borel was born on the east coast of Trinidad in the fishing community Plaisance Village, Mayaro. Mayaro, the Arawak name for the area, is often translated as "the place where the cassava grows."

Cleopatra and her siblings—elder sister Natasha, little brother Ojai, and the youngest girl, Thandi—grew up with their parents, Betty and Raymond. Raymond, a high school athlete, was one of the people who encouraged Cleopatra’s early interest in athletics, teaching her and Natasha as much as he knew about the throwing events.

Living some distance from the capital, Port of Spain, the girls had limited exposure to training expertise.

"They tried to start something in my area," she recalls, "but it was more of a running club. My teachers encouraged me to compete, but the focus was really on running."

 

Although Cleopatra started out as a runner, and children her age were generally discouraged from doing field events, she knew she was a big girl, and she felt a sense of frustration as she watched the older girls, her sister included, go through field-event routines.

"I always felt that I was really strong, and I kind of had the feeling that [shot put] was the event for me,” she says.

 

Cleopatra tells the story of a high school championship meet, for which she was very excited. One of the teachers decided to stage a protest that led to the school withdrawing from the meet. But knowing her love for the sport, her mother took the youngster to watch the second day of the championships. Cleopatra loved it.

It wasn't until she moved to the United States in 1998 that Cleopatra began to realise what she was capable of as an athlete.

"When I went to [Coppin State] University in Maryland, I saw the opportunity to get seriously involved in track and field," she says.

Borel enjoyed the calm, nurturing environment at Coppin, but her coach was retiring so she transferred to University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). There the Trinidadian met unaccustomed rigor. She had a technique coach and weights coach, and head coach Brian King was expecting to see her win conference and NCAA titles.

 

In March of 2002 she obliged, throwing 17.50m to win the NCAA Indoor Championship. Later that year she just missed a medal at her first major international championship, finishing 4th in the Manchester Commonwealth Games (16.27, after 16.90 in qualifying).

When she graduated from UMBC, her coach urged her to focus on athletics for two to three years, and she saw that if she worked at it, she could make the next level. As she says, Coach King pointed out to her that she could "work for the rest of your life, but you can only make the Olympics once or twice"

That settled it for the girl who had nurtured Olympic dreams even when she was not being allowed to throw with older girls back in Mayaro. That summer (2003) year she collected her first major medal, a silver in the CAC in St. Georges, Grenada, where she threw a big PB 17.79. The next month she settled for 6th at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo (17.23).

In 2004, focusing on the Olympics, she popped a huge indoor PB in February (19.48m) but couldn't duplicate the feat a month later at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest, where she failed to qualify for the final (18.19m). Through a busy outdoor season, she was consistently well over 18 metres, and frequently on the podium.

In Greece, surrounded by a Who's Who of Shot Put, Cleopatra admits to feeling somewhat intimidated. At the Olympic Games' historic shot put venue in Olympia, she threw 18.90m in the qualifying round and looked good for a medal. Once again, however, she couldn't duplicate the feat in the final (18.35m for 9th).

 

A low-key 2005 was highlighted by another CAC Championship silver medal (18.05m).

Borel, who tries to serve as a role model for young throwers in the region, is enjoying her status as one of the greatest field events competitors ever from the English-speaking Caribbean.

At the regional level, Borel is consistently on the podium. In 2006, she bagged bronze at the CAC Games in Cartagena, Colombia, and followed up in 2007 with NACAC Championship gold and Pan Am Games bronze.

Also in 2006, Borel made up for her near miss four years earlier with a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, England.

And in 2008, she turned silver into gold, capturing the CAC Championship title for the first time with an 18.39m throw in Cali, Colombia.

Borel had to settle for third spot at the 2009 CAC Championship meet, in Havana, Cuba. But she bounced back in 2010 with CAC Games gold in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. And in October, when most of the world's elite athletes had already closed off the season, Borel threw 19.03m to secure Commonwealth silver in Delhi, India.

 

The 2010 season was a turning point in Borel's career.

The Mayaro thrower produced her 19.48m personal best way back in 2004, but in the five seasons that followed she was unable to return to 19-metre territory. Borel finally hit the mark in August 2010, in London, England. And once the drought had been broken, the flood gates opened. She bettered 19 metres in three more 2010 outings, including the Commonwealth Games.

Borel opened her 2011 campaign with another 19-metre performance, improving her streak to five in a row. There were three other 19-metre meets for Borel that season, including the CAC Championships, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where she struck gold with a 19.00m heave. The Mayaro thrower also earned silver at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

At the 2012 Olympic Games, in London, England, Borel was 13th in qualifying with an 18.36m throw, just missing out on the 12-woman final. As it turned out, she was robbed of the opportunity to throw for precious metal. Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk was stripped of the gold medal after failing a drug test, and Borel was promoted to 12th.

 

The 2013 season was a rough one for Borel. Her father, Raymond was ailing, and he eventually passed away in August. In spite of the challenges, Borel was able to retain her CAC Championship title.

Borel never hit the 18-metre mark in 2013. In stark contrast, she bettered 18.50m in 15 of her 19 2014 outings, including three 19-plus competitions. In July 2014, Borel - who is now based in Trinidad and Tobago where she is coached by Cuban Ismael Lopez Mastrapa - earned her third Commonwealth Games medal, an 18.57m throw securing silver.

"There were days when I felt like I can't possibly throw another shot put, but that's when coach would step in and say something like 'Let's go Cleo, you will only die once!', and laugh. Somehow, that gave me the motivation to keep going.

"I can't overemphasise the role that Mastrapa played in this year's (2014) success. Apart from writing all my work programmes, Mastrapa encourages me to be happy every day, to have fun and enjoy my workout. So this year, I did not wait for a good performance to be happy. I was happy and thankful for every day I was able to train and get better. We worked hard, but the process was a lot of fun.

"Moreover, when things did not go as expected, Mastrapa allowed me to cry and sulk for a moment, then he quickly adjusted the plan, and we had our first 19+ meet of the year. We were like shot put ninjas, making lemonade when necessary."

 

Borel was particularly pleased with her level of consistency in 2014.

"I am extremely proud of my 2014 season. A full year we have been training. According to my journal, I started September 11, 2013. While I love my job, there were many, many hard days, weeks and months of work that contributed to the success coach and I had this year. I'm extremely thankful that our work paid off.

"This year, I focused even more on my technique. There were training cycles that called for us to throw up to nine times per week. It was not always the 4kg (shot), but we threw a lot of implements this year."

In September 2014, Borel threw 18.68m to finish fifth at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech, Morocco.

And then, on November 27, in Mexico, the T&T field star landed a big 18.99m throw to retain her CAC Games title.

During the 2014 season, Borel had said: "It is very important for me to continue to progress - that's shot put talk for throw big."

 

In the build-up to the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, Borel went past the 19-metre mark twice. The 36-year-old finished fourth at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Paris, France with a 19.07m effort. And three days later, she landed the iron ball 19.26m – her best throw in four years – to strike gold at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial meet, in Hungary.

A couple weeks later, in Toronto, Canada, Borel was crowned Pan American Games champion for the first time. Thanks to her golden throw of 18.67m, the Mayaro powerhouse now has a complete set of medals at the hemispheric Games – 2007 bronze, 2011 silver, and 2015 gold.

Borel is also a multi-medallist at the CAC and Commonwealth levels, but has not yet achieved a top-three finish at a major global meet.

The affable field athlete was solid in the qualifying competition at the Beijing Worlds, throwing 18.55m for sixth spot. However, she sustained a finger injury while warming up for the final, and finished 12th and last with a 17.43m effort.

At the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, USA, Borel was one spot short of the podium. She threw 18.38m to finish fourth.

At 37, Borel goes into her fourth Olympic Games as an experienced veteran. Rio 2016 is likely to be her final outing on the world's biggest sporting stage.

"I think this is going to be my best Olympics ever. If I did not have the hardships and difficulty that I had in my career, I wouldn't be here today. If I had made it into the finals at London, and finished in a place where I was satisfied, I wouldn't be sitting here right now. I'd be somewhere else.

"I realise," Borel continues, "that I learn and I grow from my so-called failures. You just have to embrace the way things come to you and the journey that you go through in life."


Prepared by Kwame Laurence and Terry Finisterre for the IAAF 'Focus on Athletes' project. © 2006-2016 IAAF :: Updated 2020.

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