TRINIDAD AND Tobago athlete Andre Marcano has been featured in Puma Clothing's latest campaign in collaboration with Tracksmith.
Marcano, who is also part of the national bobsled team, said he feels privileged to collaborate with a brand that supports diversity, equity and inclusion.
I am excited to embark upon this opportunity because of what it represents. The campaign highlighted the efforts of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who used their platform in their protest at the 1968 Olympics to speak out against hate and injustice.
Smith and Carlos are retired US athletes who, while standing on the podium in acceptance of their gold and bronze medals respectively for the men's 200-metre race, protested against racial inequality.
Both raised their gloved right fists in solidarity with the Black Power Movement of the 1960s while the US anthem was played. The movement sought to unite the voices of people of colour worldwide against systemic oppression.
Systemic oppression is defined by America's National Equity Project as the intentional disadvantaging of groups of people based on their identity while privileging members of the dominant group on the basis of gender, race, class, sexual orientation and language.
Marcano said, "This resonates with me and encourages me to use my platform to educate and speak about issues that affect humanity. So, I am truly honoured to be a part of this campaign and all that it represents."
Marcano said he was contacted by US running apparel and gear brand Tracksmith because of his affiliation with Central Park Track Club, where he has been a member since 2011.
"They are sponsored by Tracksmith, who launched the Puma campaign.
On social media I post athletic content and wear Tracksmith Athletic gear in my posts, since I am sponsored by them."""
Being featured by an international brand, for him, is a reminder of growth - how far he has come as an athlete.
I've had this dream since I was growing up in TT, and to be recognised globally for my efforts is motivating and hopefully inspirational to others.
The campaign also features Panamanian Olympian Rolanda Bell, pro athlete and coach Kenyetta Iyevbele, pro athlete Malcum Tatum and athletes George Espino and Erica Stanley-Dottin.
Marcano on hard work, motivation and work-life balance
Marcano told Newsday he remembers racing other children with whom he grew up in Pleasantville, San Fernando.
I was encouraged to join a track and field team based on my speed - this was compared to the other kids in the community. I asked my mom and dad to sign me up for a sports club, and they agreed. I joined Petrotrin Sports Club shortly after entering high school - St Benedict's College - and since then I have been training and competing in the sport.
Asked how he became part of the bobsled team, Marcano said recruited by the pilot of the TT team, Axel Brown.
Even though I was apprehensive at first, due to logistics and low-key fear, Axel saw something in me and believed that I would be a great fit. Even though I might have initially served him major curveballs. he did not give up on me, and the rest was history. I attended a training camp in Utah and Calgary, Canada, where I was officially selected for the team.
To combat the physical and mental stress that comes with being a pro athlete, Marcano says he finds restoration though spending time with family and close friends, and taking time to move at a natural pace.
"Outside of being an athlete, I try not to think about track. When I am training, I focus on the sport but outside of that, I take my mind off of it to maintain a healthy balance.
I also practise gratitude daily and try to enjoy the little things such as walks, a good movie on Netflix and maintaining a fun-filled social life."""