'Til death do us part ... Husband and wife face Olympic dream together
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:
Leading Jamaican triple jumper Shaneika Thomas has enjoyed a breakout season this year in the event and her husband and coach, Kerry-Lee Ricketts, is full of confidence as she gets ready to compete in her first Olympic Games.
Ricketts is expecting his newly wed wife to finish in the top three in Rio after a season that has seen her gain 34 centimetres on her personal best, after improving to 14.57m.
That mark, which was achieved at the UWI Invitational in April, makes the young jumper the best Jamaican in the event this year and the sixth-highest ranked athlete in the world.
"I'm not getting ahead of myself. I'm being a realist, but I do see her in the top three," Ricketts said.
Ricketts, who also believes their husband and wife dynamic helps them both to get the best out of each other where her development in the triple jump is concerned, says he is also not surprised by her improvement this year, pointing to a focus on her speed and strength as key factors.
"I am very pleased with her season. We are half-way there in terms of her jumping mechanics and so on, but we aren't where we want to be yet. So to see her doing this well, I am quite pleased," Ricketts told The Sunday Gleaner during a training session yesterday.
"I'm not surprised by her season so far. We have been working on a lot of things. We have done some work on her sprinting mechanics, her speed and so on, and we have received a lot of feedback from folks who say that they have seen her improvements in that area," added Ricketts.
The coach said he was thrilled that Thomas, who will now assume the name Shaneika Ricketts, will be competing in The Olympics
"It's every athlete's dream to be an Olympian and it's every coach's dream to coach an Olympian as well, so I am really looking forward to this," Ricketts said, while touching on the experience of coaching his wife.
"First, I didn't tell her to drop her surname but she is going with Shaneika Ricketts. She is kind of an old school lady in a young woman's body," Ricketts laughed.
"Being married and working together, it's a good thing. We eat and sleep triple jump, we are best friends and, in addition to being her husband, I'm her coach, her gym instructor, her massage therapist. It's a good dynamic."