‘Make it a priority, it’s the only way’

— Lynn deCambra McLeod, a multi-faceted athlete raps with Stabroek Sports on representing Guyana and Barbados at hockey and squash

To many Guyanese sportsmen and women of today the name Lynn deCambra McLeod might not ring a bell.

After all, many of today’s youths are not too well versed in the history of their particular sport. Then again, it might be because of the fact that at present, Lynn deCambra McLeod lives in Barbados and not in the land of her birth.

Although deCambra McLeod represented both Guyana and Barbados in sport, she just might be more popular and more respected in Barbados than at home.

CHIP OF THE BLOCK! Muffin Stollmeyer, left, is just as multi-talented as her mother Lynn de Cambra Mc Leod, right, who has represented Guyana and Barbados at hockey and squash.
CHIP OF THE BLOCK! Muffin Stollmeyer, left, is just as multi-talented as her mother Lynn de Cambra Mc Leod, right, who has represented Guyana and Barbados at hockey and squash.

But respected she is for her many achievements in sport which include representing Guyana at hockey and Barbados at squash and golf.

Looking at deCambra McLeod, one might be tempted to shrug her off as just another attractive female, that is, until one takes a closer look and sees the steely determination that lies behind her seemingly easy going personality.

Before migrating to Barbados, deCambra McLeod said she represented this country at hockey.

“I played hockey squash and golf,” she told Stabroek Sports recently in an exclusive interview.

But that was not all.

Among the backyard disciplines she played were cricket, table tennis and motor racing which might cause some to think of her as a tom boy except for the fact that there is nothing remotely boyish about her looks.

According to deCambra McLeod, she grew up in Laluni Street, Queenstown, moved to Campbellville before finally settling in Bel Air Promenade.

“I spent most of my life in Guyana, in Bel Air Promenade,” she recalls.

Lynn’s father was the late Jules deCambra, a former secretary of the New Building Society (NBS).

“He was the person in charge for a number of years,” Lyn says adding, “Daddy was the president of the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) so I guess to get us out of his hair, we had to go and play something.”

That might be why she is oh so talented in sports but it could also be because of genetics.

You see Lynn comes from a family that is very proficient in sports.

“My mother played hockey and I had a couple of aunts that played hockey too.

“I also had two sisters that played hockey,” she said.

Small wonder then that it was the sport of hockey which was to be her first love and she became so adept, proficient whatever, with the hockey stick that it was almost a forgone conclusion that she would one day don national colours and true to form she went on to represent Guyana in the early 1970s.

She also played one year for the Barbados national team after migrating there she told this newspaper.

Asked why she did not play for Barbados for a longer period her answer was “family dynamics.”

That simply meant that she had commenced the process of raising a family (had gotten pregnant) and, while she was soon lost to the sport of hockey, another career in another sports discipline soon beckoned.

“I discovered squash at 25. I then started playing and competing and within three to five years I was on the team,” she recalls of her advent to squash.

DeCambra McLeod, who honed her racquet skills on the squash courts on the island, said she competed on the Barbados circuit against players like Suzette Edghill, Angela Webber, mother of Natalie Webber (many times national champion) and Linda Tudor.

“Her husband (Linda‘s husband) also used to play. He was on the national team as well, she recalls.

Naturally, despite her late entry to the sport, deCambra McLeod’s progression up the ranks was swift and unsurprising.

Runner up to Natalie Webber in 1991 for the National Open women’s singles title success came the following year when she dethroned the defending champion Webber and was duly crowned national women’s singles squash champion of the Land of the Flying Fish.

Her insatiable appetite for success meant that she simply could not stop there and she went on to play on a number of victorious Barbados teams which won the CARASRA team championships.

Her squash sojourn brought her into contact with a number of the local squash stars and she was able to rub shoulders with the likes of Diane Lee, Roger Arjoon, Lucy Shuffler, Coleen Braithwaite and Gillian Griffith, to name a few.

According to DeCambra McLeod, she also represented Guyana one year at squash in the veterans’ division.

A natural athlete, deCambra McLeod says she did not do any special type of training in those days but simply spent hours on the courts.

“Just get on the court and spend hours on the court. Do some sprints,” was her recipe for success.

Later, the training was to get a bit more strenuous.

“One year in Barbados I had ankle and wrists weights,” she recalled.

And while not openly admitting that she might have inherited her ability or at least some of it from her mother’s side of the family she did credit good health in the form of superb eyesight for some of the success she enjoyed as an athlete.

“I think so. I think have good hand/eye coordination,” she said succinctly.

According to deCambra McLeod, in those days, sport was considered a pastime and local athletes were at a disadvantage because of a lack of exposure.

“I did not even know of squash when I left Guyana at age 21,” she said.

Today, she is a proud mother of two children a boy and a girl and her daughter, Muffin Stollmeyer, is following in her mother’s footsteps playing both squash and golf and of course excelling at both, which given her genes is to be expected.

She is currently a Barbados national squash player.

Asked what were her hobbies and if she used to party back in the days, deCambra McLeod says she was never the party type.

“Playing sport. That was my sport really. I wasn’t interested in going out, not really! It was a matter of what I wanted to do and still is. I still play golf for Barbados. I played last year.”

Asked if she had any regrets she answered,” “Yeah! I wish I had started much earlier. I like the discipline of sport, that sort of stuff.”

A fiercely competitive person deCambra McLeod said she is driven in all facets of life even, driving.

“I would normally concede if the person is better than me but I’m very competitive. I love the competition.”

Asked to compare playing squash in Barbados to squash in Guyana, deCambra McLeod says playing squash in Barbados is expensive.

“In Barbados we have to pay fees,” she explained.

Like the other two sports disciplines, deCambra McLeod has enjoyed some measure of success at golf.

She says she was fortunate to play on the United States Golf Association (USGA) tour once and found the experience beneficial.

“I did go and play USGA senior women. I managed to qualify for that one year and played with Sandra Gaul. But I mean those girls were so good. We need more exposure. It’s overwhelming when you go for the first time. You’ve got to be really good to play on the tour,” she says.

DeCambra McLeod says that there is a Caribbean Golf Championships but that Guyana teams do not usually compete since one of the requirements is for an 18-hole course and Guyana only has a nine-hole course.

Asked what advice she would give to young aspiring female squash, golf or hockey players, deCambra McLeod said simply: “Make it a priority. It’s the only way.”

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