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Richards main hope among non-traditional qualifiers

Published:Thursday | August 20, 2015 | 8:00 AMRaymond Graham
O'Dayne Richards of Jamaica blows a kiss to the crowd as he celebrates by holding up the Jamaica national flag after winning the gold medal in the men's shot put competition at Hampden Park Stadium during the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday July 28, 2014.

How realistic are the chances of the six Jamaica representatives participating in non-traditional events medalling at the World Championships?

Men's discus throwers Jason Morgan, Federick Dacres, and Chad Wright make up half the list, while respective men's and women's shot putters O'Dayne Richards and Danniel Thomas, along with female decathlete Salcia Slack, complete the roster.

The best medal prospect is O'Dayne Richards in the men's shot put. He is definitely the country's best-ever athlete in the event as he has three major titles in his career - World University, Commonwealth, and Senior Pan Am Games champion.

At the recent Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, he had a career-best and national record 21.69 metres to win the gold medal. This mark by Richards has him at number three on the World list, with the United States' Joe Kovacs being world leader with 22.56m and two-time World and defending champion David Storl of Germany second with 22.20m.

Four years ago in Daegu, Dylan Armstrong of Canada threw 21.64m for silver, while two years ago in Moscow, Ron Whiting of the United States heaved the ball for 21.57m to mine silver.

Assessing these results, Richards would be motivated as anything close to his personal best could lead to his greatest achievement ever in the event.

Hoping to medal

Looking at the leading performers in the men's discus, Morgan, who ranks number two with 68.19m, just behind world leader Piotr Malachowski of Poland, with 68.29m, could also medal.

However, as he has done over the past few years, after making a big throw before a major Championships, Morgan has failed to replicate. In fact, since making that throw, he has been to several meets and is yet to go close to his top throw.

Dacres, who has shown in the past that when it comes to major championships he can compete with the best as he was World Youth and World Junior champion in 2011 and 2012, will be hoping to rise to the challenge. He is ranked at 11, with 66.30m.

For the others, it will take a miracle for them to be on the podium as Wright, with 65.03m, is at number 24 in the men's discus; Thomas is ranked 38th with 17.76m; while Slack, with 6141 points, is rated number 27 in the women's heptathlon.