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I still have the urge to compete, says Smith

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 6:00 AMGordon Williams
Maurice Smith coaching young athletes in Atlanta.

GEORGIA, United States:

Maurice Smith, arguably Jamaica's greatest all-round track and field athlete, is refusing to rule out a comeback years after injury forced him from international competition.

Smith, who won silver in the decathlon at the 2007 IAAF World Championships (WC) and 2006 Commonwealth Games, plus gold and silver at Pan American Games 2007 and 2011, respectively, said despite not competing since 2012 mainly because of a back injury and complications which followed, he hasn't decided to quit.

"I didn't make an official retirement announcement," the 34-year-old explained June 7 while here at the 2015 Atlanta All Heart Track Club Relays, where he was a meet organiser.

"For me, retirement is when you're dead. At this point, it's really up in the air for me. I still have the urge to compete."

If he does return, Smith will target the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

"I could say the thought is currently in my head," he said. "It's something I've been thinking about ... I would love to be a part of it."

Smith said he's pain-free, trains regularly and currently weighs about 200 pounds, just off the 195 to 197 he carried at the peak of his career when he recorded a personal best of 8,644 points at WC 2007. The current decathlon world record, set in 2012, is 9,039.

Although surgery to his back was successful, Smith said recurring hamstring strains relating to that injury eventually shut him down.

"Each time, it would set me back four to five weeks," the former Calabar High star explained. "That was the reason I decided to take a break. I'm still on a break, but I'm giving back."

contribution in other ways

However, Smith, head coach of All Heart Track Club, said he isn't obsessed with competing again.

"I don't think I have anything else to prove in the arena as far as my talent in the arena," he explained. "I was once second best in the world in my event. I have been ranked number one in my event before."

Smith, who has captained Jamaica teams, believes there are other ways he can contribute. He's worked with the nation's athletes at major international events. After being injured and failing to finish the decathlon at WC 2009, Smith became unofficial "vibes master" in Jamaica's camp, a role he revisited for the 2012 Olympics after withdrawing from the meet with a back injury.

"London Olympics was a very good feeling in the team," Smith said. "Unity was very good and, in my opinion, I played a role in that. I get along with everyone on the team."

If his comeback bid fails, Smith said he would still feel comfortable helping Jamaica's team. His decathlon and coaching experience, Smith argued, qualifies him.

"I am knowledgeable about a whole lot of events," he said.