Richards seeks improvement
World championships bronze-medal winner and national record holder O'Dayne Richards will be looking for major improvement as he competes today in the men's shot put at the two-day Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Richards is the only Jamaican in action on the opening day of what is expected to be an intriguing weekend of track and field in Eugene, with the women's long jump and women's discus events being the other two Diamond League events on the schedule for the day.
The Jamaican will compete at 8:18 p.m. (10:18 p.m. Jamaica time).
Richards, who twice threw 21.69m last season, including during the final at the World Championships in Beijing, China, was a shadow of himself during his season-opening series at the recent Shanghai Diamond League meet in China.
The MVP star could only manage a 19.22m effort, which left him down the pile, but he will be hoping to get closer to the 21m mark as he continues to regain his strength and confidence following surgery a few weeks ago.
Richards had a metal rod implanted in his shin bone through his knee after taking measures to correct a stress fracture in the shin.
After his competition, the 27-year-old admitted that he was somewhat scared to push himself in the circle in Shanghai. He is aware that he has a lot of work to do if he is to get back to his best form in time for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It may still be too early to expect too much from the thrower, but he will certainly not be short on inspiration given the quality of the athletes gathered in Eugene for this event.
CHANCE TO PROVE HIMSELF
Kurt Roberts, who was a surprise winner in Shanghai, will get a chance to prove that this was no fluke with world champion Joe Kovacs and other heavyweights such as Tom Walsh and Reese Hoffa, who have both gone above 21m already this year as well as Ryan Whiting and Jordan Clarke, all guaranteeing a high-quality showdown and more than enough motivation for the Jamaican.
Last year, Richards logged 20.06m and seventh place at this meet during a period where he only registered two throws that got to 21m in his first 10 meets.
Still, besides his need to get back in top physical condition, there isn't too much that the Jamaican should be worried about if last season is anything to go by, after five of his seven post-June throws landed beyond the 21m mark.