While 30 of Cayman’s top amateur track and field athletes head to 2018 CARIFTA Championships, 14-year old Juan Pablo Valerio will stay home after a scary discovery in his health.
At last month’s CUC Championships, the 345 Athletics Club middle-distance runner began experiencing worrying symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, a sore calf and slurred speech. Something was wrong.
“They called the ambulance and took me to the hospital. That’s where they found out I had WPW Syndrome.”
It was Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome: an abnormality in the electrical system of the heart.
“Everyone has two vessels that go to your heart, but in my case I had three.”
Doctors have put Valerio on the shelf for the immediate future. He says that’s disappointing as he’d qualified for the Under-17 boys 1500-meters at the 2018 CARIFTA Championships. The setback hasn’t however affected his attitude, as the John Gray High School student explains, he has a new goal in mind.”
“There is always next year, and it’s (CARIFTA) going to be here next year, so I’ll make my mark here.”
The sports community including his teammates are providing support in his recovery.
“We are hurt that he can’t compete” says Tiffany Cole. The 800-meter national record holder says however the entire 345 Athletics Club team does not doubt he will come back stronger than ever.
“He has so much talent, he’s a terrific guy, the club has been praying and hoping he’ll have a speedy recovery and get back as soon as he can.”