Last month Kamela Monks, Fort Regent
Customer Support Advisor, won Silver in the Triple Jump for Team
Jersey at the NatWest Island Games. Here we ask her about her
journey and what's next.
The first thing that strikes you about Kamela Monks,
or Kiki as she is known, is just how likeable she is. Full of
enthusiasm and energy it would be difficult to see how Kiki could
be anything but a success.
Kiki's road to Silver Medal victory began at the
early age of three, "I don't remember it myself', she says 'but dad
has told me how, even when I was only little, I was running faster
than my peers'.
Originally from Trinidad, Kiki and her family moved
to Grenada before eventually moving to Jersey when she was
six. The journey, she remembers, involved a long and arduous
sea crossing to America before a transatlantic flight; traveling by
sea is not something she looks forward to "I still get sea sick
thinking about it!" she says.
By year six and attending St Clements School, Kiki
made the transition from just enjoying being a very fast runner to
taking her talent more seriously. She was also enjoying the
freedom that athletics gave her, "I lived just around the corner
from FB Fields and because it was so close I was able to walk there
myself, I loved the independence it gave me so this definitely
motivated me to keep going."
From a close family, Kiki has two brothers and a
sister and many nieces and nephews. She says their support
has always been important. "At first my sister used to train with
me but she eventually gave it up but I continued, having my family
behind me has been a major part of my success in the Games.
None of them are sporty so I'm not sure where I got it from but I'm
so grateful for everything they have done. I know that they
are all proud of me; that's a really good feeling." You can tell
that Kiki means every word of it; she shines even more when she
talks about the love of her family and how they frequently spend
For her senior school years Kiki moved to JCG and
became proficient at sprinting, high jumps and hurdles "triple jump
wasn't really something I was doing at the time but my coach,
Andrew Winnie, felt that it would be a good fit for me so when I
was 15 I swapped out the high jump for the triple." Kiki
discovered her coach was right and she had a natural flair and went
on to compete successfully against her contemporaries.
Kiki's winning streak continued but by the age of 17
the social aspect of athletics meet was beginning to take over the
training. "I was growing up, there were other things I wanted
to do; I still loved meeting up at the club and attending training
but it was harder to stay committed." By the age of 18 Kiki
had stopped training altogether. "I wanted to go to University,
which I did at Eastbourne. I started out with good intentions
to keep training but the nearest track at the time was in Brighton
and without a car it was very difficult to get to.
Eventually Kiki found University wasn't for her, she
returned to Jersey and embarked on a modeling career in
London. "When I came home I would often bump into all my old
athletic friends and my coach, Andrew Winnie, who would try to
encourage me to come back but life just seemed to get in the
way. I was modeling in London, commuting back and forth from
Jersey and I couldn't seem to make it all fit into the time."
It would be 10 years before Kiki would eventually
return to serious training something she feels she owes partly to
John Scriven & her training partner at the time Will Golder,
Bobsleigh Driver for Team GB. "It was so great to train with
Will, it really helped me get back on track. After the very
first session I felt great but the following day I couldn't walk, I
was in so much pain and it just kept hurting. By the end of
the first week I wasn't even able go to work and I wondered if I
was going to be able to do it"
Kiki started her Island Games journey in earnest
after a meeting with John Scriven; coach and member of the One
Foundation, 'I was approached by John who explained that if I
didn't come back now, I probably never would. To be fair I
had mixed emotions, I didn't feel ready, I wasn't fit enough,
prepared enough and I was scared of competing and failing, but my
family and friends were so supportive I knew that if I ever wanted
to compete in the Games, it was now or never".
So began a painful training programme "I didn't
realize just how out of condition I was. Two weeks before the
games I began training with Ross Jeffs, a fellow Triple Jumper and
Kelvin Richards, a coach from the Victoria Park Harriers and Tower
Hamlets Athletics Club".
Kiki persevered, inspired by her new coaches, and
soon found that her fitness and technique were improving beyond
what she thought was possible "I just couldn't believe what a
difference it was making, I was jumping better and longer and
getting to understand what my body was capable of if I used it
The technical challenge of mastering the three
different elements of the triple jump meant that Kiki could work on
her weakest points something she believes has helped her improve so
dramatically "with sprinting one can only really try and run faster
but with the triple jump you can work on all the different parts
separately and knit them all together".
The qualifiers were coming up and Kiki was still in
significant pain "Every part of my body was hurting, my muscles
were so weak, particularly my knees, thighs and core, and I wasn't
sure how I was going to perform." Kiki was entered into both
the hurdles and the triple jump qualifiers.
Kiki was ultimately unsuccessful for the hurdles
qualifiers, missing out on a place in the Jersey team, "I was so
disappointed", she said, "it took me a long time to come to terms
with it but I had to so it didn't affect my performance for the
In the run up to the triple qualifiers Kiki was
seriously concerned about injuries and practiced the run ups but
not the full jump, she knew it was a risk but explained "I really
couldn't afford an injury and my body felt so bruised already I was
worried that if I sustained a serious injury I would be out
completely and my Island Games dream would be over." The
strategy paid off, Kiki entered the qualifiers uncomfortable but
uninjured and gained a place in the Jersey Team.
Competing in the Island Games came with a pressure
that Kiki hadn't expected "I wanted to do well and I didn't want to
let Jersey down. I've been going to meets for what seems most
of my life and been nervous but fine, this time it was completely
different, everyone is there for you, supporting you and you feel
this great sense of responsibility, it was pretty scary." The
night before her Silver Medal win Kiki couldn't sleep. "I was
terrified, I just wanted to get one jump in, I wanted to do it for
Jersey, my friends, my family, my coach". At the grounds
Kiki could hear her family "literally screaming my name" she
recalls "the nerves were terrible but fortunately the audience was
pretty far away and I couldn't really make out individuals and that
helped me remain focused."
Kiki's first jump was a good one but she had gone
over the line by millimeters and the jump was disallowed, she had
also hurt her hip on landing the previous day and along with the
nerves she thought her medal winning hopes might be over.
"I had to really pull myself together for my next
jump, it wasn't the best jump I had ever done at 11.24m but it was
solid. I had a medal for Jersey."
"The medals ceremony was fantastic. Following
my win I went to my sister's house and my little nephew opened the
door and just stared at me for a full minute, he was literally
shaking with excitement before screaming his delight, it was a very
So what for the future, does Kiki have another Island
Games in her? "Yes, definitely. Training with Ross and
Kelvin has really opened me up to the possibilities and I believe I
can improve. I'm on a pre-training programme with another
athlete, Bube Popo who competed in the 100m and 100m relay.
Gemma Dawkins, who competed in the 800m and 4x400 relay at the
Island Games, is my Health coach, who is fantastic, in fact she is
a bit of an inspiration. Lots of people look up to the big
stars of the track, and of course I admire them, but I'm more
inspired by people closer to home. I know what they have been
through and sacrifices they had to make to get where they are
today. Gemma definitely is someone I look up to even though
she is younger than me!"
I asked her if she is going to struggle to keep
committed, as she did previously. "It's not easy but I'm working
part time hours and I'm training with Bube, we support each other,
and I'm very excited to be working with Ross . He has created a
bespoke winter programme for me that I can start in October, but
only if I'm fit enough. I don't want to miss that
What about the future, beyond when she is able to
compete? "My coach has recently opened an academy in Jersey to
produce and nurture high standard athletes; I would love to think
I'd have the opportunity to join him in coaching in years to
come. Seeing the results I achieved with a very small part of
a properly designed programme has brought home to me how lacking we
are in Jersey and it's so hard for athletes to meet their full
potential. You've got 10-15 athletes all of different
abilities and ages all coached by one person at the same time,
there is a desperate need for one to one coaching and individual
programmes. I am grateful that Ross has been able to open his
academy and very much hope that people recognise this missing
factor in Jersey. I hope that one day I will be able to work
with him supporting future generations."