The Post-Journal

Olympic Hopeful Takes A Break From The Battle

The consumers at The Resource Center on Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown have been studying a little history of late.

Some have gone to the library to find answers on the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be held in August.

Others have surfed the World Wide Web for information in Beijing, China, the Olympic host city.

In all cases, said Robin Kestler, a Resource Center skills instructor, the goal has been the same.

“We’re always looking for something to put our energy into,” she said.

Friday afternoon, it was all focused on one special guest – Sheldon Battle.

The Jamestown native paid a visit to the consumers as part of a flurry of appearances before returning to Lexington, Ky., where he is training for the U.S. Olympic Trials , which will be held in Eugene, Ore. The 2001 Jamestown High School graduate is hoping to earn one of three berths on the U.S. team.

“It’s really exciting to come back and get involved with people who are helping me,” Battle said after spending most of an hour signing autographs and posing for pictures in The Resource Center cafeteria. “A lot of people have helped support me in the community, and it’s been a really good homecoming.”

Among the biggest of the local “Battle Backers” have been the consumers of The Resource Center. Since the first of the year, they’ve assisted in a sub sale, a 50/50 drawing, a bake sale and a spaghetti dinner. They’ve also made buttons with Battle’s photo on it. All proceeds have gone to Battle and the pursuit of his Olympic dream.

“It’s a really good feeling to come home , and people uplift you and show gratitude for bringing respect to the area and just going out and doing a good job,” Battle said. “I’m really happy to get that support.”

The financial assistance from all sources, which has totaled nearly $11,000 so far, has gone a long way to helping Battle meet his living expenses while allowing him to continue to train.

In fact, he just recently quit his job as a bartender/server at a Lexington restaurant in order to train full time.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking,” Battle admitted, “but at the same time I had to make ends meet and pay bills. Now it’s a little more relaxing and I can go out and really focus on training with the support people have given me. It’s really good to just relax, train, and really focus on what needs to happen the next couple of months.”

Working under the watchful eye of his mentor and throwing coach, Doug Reynolds, Battle has entered three meets this year, including one in Jamaica.

“I had some things to work out technically, but it’s starting to progress and get better,” he said. “I threw well in Jamaica – not as well as I would have liked – but it was a step forward.”

Battle is hoping the progress continues all the way to Eugene, Ore., next month.

“I’ve never been a numbers guy, but most years right around 70 feet will give you a spot on the team,” said Battle, whose personal best throw is 68 feet, 8 inches. “I’ve never gone after numbers. I feel it kind of distracts me. I just want to go out and perform technically and let the adrenaline of the meet pick me up. I feel I can do that and reach out there toward that number.”

As the cafeteria emptied, Battle picked up a box, which carried among other things, a poster with his name on it made by the Resource Center consumers.

“Two of our consumers took a big ‘Welcome Sheldon’ sign and took it around for everyone to sign,” Kestler said. “They like the Olympics, they like sports, they like athletics.”

And judging from their response on Friday afternoon, they especially like one particular athlete from Jamestown.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.