When she’s not training to represent the British Virgin Islands on the track, sprinter Ashley Kelly is working hard to ensure the voices of her fellow athletes are heard.

During her first meeting as a member of the Panam Sports Development Commission, Ashley Kelly says the level of discussion surrounding athlete issues exceeded her expectations.

“The entire commission was so welcoming and polite. During the meetings the President, CEO and other major executives were interested in my opinion and suggestions.  I thought that I would attend and it would be a number of lectures, but the meetings were interactive and I learned a lot about the business side of the federations and Olympic Committees,” Kelly tells Panam Sports.

A sprinter from the British Virgin Islands, Kelly was recruited by Panam Sports Athlete Commission member Aliann Pompey to apply for a position on a Panam Sports Commission. Kelly was excited for the opportunity and believes more can be done to help athletes of the Americas.

“My number one goal is to solicit change. I want to exercise the athlete’s point of view to make things better for sport development and help more athletes qualify for the Pan Am Games and Olympic Games. There are new innovative ways that federations can work together to provide competitions for athletes to improve his or her craft,” Kelly says.

Kelly adds that whether its as the BVI flag bearer during the Rio 2016 Olympics or as a member of a commission, its always an honor to represent your country.

“As the flag bearer in 2016, it was an amazing and prideful moment to carry my country’s flag in front of millions of viewers. I was honored that my country believed that I was a great ambassador for such an important moment,” she says.

“As an athlete, I am an ambassador for my country and I aim to promote the great talent that the small island of Tortola in the British Virgin Island has to offer.”

One way Kelly seeks to make life better for high-performance athletes is to ensure that training doesn’t just focus on physical improvement.

“There are a number of programs that can be implemented to help sports development, but also improve the quality of life for athletes off the track. I think there is a lot of emphasis on the athlete only as an athlete and not an actual person. Sport is one aspect of an athlete’s life and it is important to provide development programs for the person, thus improving the person’s sport performance.”

Technology can also provide great benefits to athletes seeking to gain a competitive edge on opponents, and Kelly hopes Panam Sports implements more technology in its training camps.

“I believe that more sport education and development camps where athletes have access to utilize technology that helps improve sport performance can help more athletes qualify for the Olympic Games. Funding programs to aid with medical and competition expenses are also imperative to success,” Kelly says.

Follow Ashley Kelly’s journey as an athlete and athlete advocate on Instagram: @ashleynatasha