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LEO ‘SPAR’ ST HELENE

He represented St. Lucia in every major sporting discipline during his heyday as an athlete: in football, cricket, lawn tennis, swimming and water polo. He captained the island’s teams in at least five of them and went on to lead the Windward Islands in Cricket. He was one of St. Lucia’s leading javelin throwers, pole vaulters and dare devil motor cyclists.

Spar was a member of the Star -studded St. Lucian team which scored 508 – the highest total in Windward cricket, against Dominica in 1953. His personal contribution was 58. It was during that period that St. Lucia dominated the other windward islands in cricket.

Even while Mindoo dominated the batting scene, it was generally Spar and Bosie who provided the back-up entertainment for the fans, supported in turn by the classy Barbadian, Griff. On the football team, Spar earned himself the additional sobriquet of ‘center half’ because of the way he dominated the field, defending, collecting, distributing his passes with the consummate ease of a midfield general.

By all accounts, Spar was every athlete’s athlete. It is difficult to determine whether he was better at land or water based sports. He seemed equally adept in both worlds. Spar’s introduction to sports came at an early age through his father Phillip, an avid sports and fitness fan.

Spar was one of the first persons to introduce stunt riding to St. Lucia. Together with his friends, Ronald Joseph, Ronald Mauricette, Jon Odlum, and others, they formed a club of dare devils riders which brought more than a tremor to the hearts of friend and family.

There exist no statistics to indicate what this great athlete’s achievements were. However, comments from his contemporaries describe, as accurately as possible, the esteem in which Spar St Helen was held, as a sportsman  and an individual who contributed so much to is society. He was a natural leader and was one whose abilities were recognised beyond the boundaries of sport in St. Lucia to Windward Islands status. This resulted in his having been selected to Captain, not just in St. Lucia in many disciplines, but also Winward Islands Cricket.

Jon Odlum credits Spar with having introduced volleyball to St. Lucia, starting in the Ciceron area. Spar’s abilities did not end in the sporting arena. Apart from serving as executive officer with the Social Department, he was also a draughtsman and an excellent freelance photographer.

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