Pullen's pride ... history-making triple-jumper thrilled at Rio qualification
ONLY two male athletes have ever represented Jamaica at the Olympics in the triple jump, with Lennox Burgher being the first after competing at the 1968 games in Mexico before Henry Jackson's appearance four years later in Munich.
Many have tried to qualify in the event since without success, but on Thursday's opening day of the JAAA/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships, a young man by the name of Clive Pullen wrote his name in the history books by becoming the first Jamaican in 44 years to qualify automatically for the event after winning with a personal best of 16.90m.
The effort met the Olympic qualifying mark, which stands at 16.85m, which meant the University of Arkansas-based athlete not only improved on his best-ever distance, but also booked his ticket to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 21-year-old former Kingston College student has had much success both at the high school and the collegiate levels in the event but described this latest accomplishment as the realisation of a lifelong dream.
"I am indeed overwhelmed as my dream is to compete at the Olympics as this is the greatest sporting show on Earth, and I must thank God as this was His doing," said an emotional Pullen.
A few weeks earlier, it was bitter disappointment for Pullen, who fouled on all his attempts while competing at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships, finishing in last place.
"It has been a great season for me, a little up and down sometimes, and I was really devastated at the NCAA Championships, knowing that I had let down my team, and I also wanted to make the Olympic qualifying mark, but possibly it was divine intervention as it was for me to qualify before my home crowd on home soil in Jamaica," he said.
"I spoke to my coach after that meet in Eugene, and he told me to stay strong as I had won three out of four titles in one season, and I said to myself that is indeed a phenomenal feat because there are many athletes who have finished their college career without winning a title," he continued.
"The support from my former teammates from Kingston College and other loyal fans really motivated me, and that really pushed me as I knew this was the last chance for me," said Pullen, who got the mark on his fourth attempt.
Pullen will now be working hard to continue improving before the Olympics.
"It's all about the coach's decision now. I am going back to the drawing board and fine-tuning and saving for the best as I could have done my two remaining jumps, but I am saving it for Rio," added an upbeat Pullen.