It is generally accepted that most of St.Lucia’s great sportsmen flowered in the 1950s and 60s. However, who was the greatest all round sportsman ever produced by St. Lucia? This title must indisputably go to Vincent ‘Quayak’ Devaux, goal keeper, pole vaulter, swimmer and lawn tennis player par excellence, among other activities.
Devaux has been rated the best goalkeeper the island has ever produced, the dominant figure in lawn tennis for over 25 years, both locally and regionally, in addition to his outstanding prowess at water polo, swimming and volleyball, all sports in which he captained the national side. He did not stop there, he was also an ace table tennis player, a rifle shooting marksman, aerobatics expert and champion motor cyclist.
Further, he is certainly the most durable, being involved in active competition way past his sixtieth year and represented St. Lucia in the Triathlon in Grenada as recently as 1988. There he obtained a gold medal in his age group and placed 16th in a 30- member race, which involved largely youngsters less than half his age. All this, by a man who, when barely 20 years old, was informed by his doctor that he would be partial cripple following an accident in which a tendon in one ankle had been severed.
As a lawn tennis player, he was described as a legend in local and regional tennis circles, where he dominated the sport for some 30 years. He was the number one Windward player from 1954 – 1975, and won many triple crown championships in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles tournaments. He represented the Windward Islands in the Brandon Regional tournaments from 1959 to 1974 and chalked up the island’s first ever Brandon doubles win in 1971, together with Johnny Easter, beating Guyana at home.
By 1971, then aged 43, Devaux was far older than his team mates, but his expertise and competitive spirit enabled him to beat many seasoned and up- coming overseas- coached West Indians. It was only the deterioration of his eye sight that forced him off the tennis circuit and into the triathlon at which he naturally excelled. The triathlon, a punishing competition, involves running, swimming and cycling and only gained popularity in St. Lucia and the other Windward Islands.
Devaux was the major attraction in local and regional matches. His achievements in field of sport will pose a hard act for any athlete to follow. They are, however, attainable providing our young sportsmen and women are able to invoke the level of discipline, dedication to perfection, and determination to win which this truly great athlete set for himself.