Willis close to all-time top 10
Following a personal best of 6.66m last month, Todea-Kaye Willis is not far off the all-time Jamaican top ten in the long jump. She is hoping to make further advances and to be on the Jamaican team to London for the IAAF World Championships in August. The former St Andrew High School jumper says she is encouraged by her early season form.
Willis, twice a gold-medal winner at Boys and Girls' Championships, produced her personal best at the Gibson-McCook Relays and expects more.
"It's still early in the season", she said recently after training last week at the University of the West Indies (UWI), "because my goal is to be at the Trials and to be at the World Championships in August, but to have this performance and to have this result so early in the season is just a good indication of what is to come."
Elva Goulbourne, an Olympic finalist in 2000, heads the list with the Jamaican record of 7.16m. Carolyn Sterling and Francine Simpson are tied for 9th on 6.67.
Describing her technique as a work-in progress, the 28-year old Willis said, "Now I just need to run off the board a bit more and hold my phases." Trained by Kerry Lee Ricketts at UWI, Willis said, "It's coming along in practice but just adding more patience, to the equation will definitely get the job done."
She hopes to complete part one of the job of getting to London soon.
"The goal though is to qualify as early as possible", she said, "just get it out the way but definitely the Trials and of course World Championships in London." The qualifying standard for the World Championships is 6.75m, which would tie Willis for fifth on the Jamaican all time list with Cynthia Henry and Jovanee Jarrett. The last day of the qualifying period is July 23.
Willis, who studied and jumped at the University of Minnesota when she left St Andrew High, says Ricketts has created a good training environment at UWI. Aside from World triple jump finalist Shanieka Ricketts, the coach recently helped German Julian Howard qualify for the European Indoor Champions and has Bahamian Tamara Myers progressing in the triple jump.
"I think now the wheel is just turning and it's his time and it's the work just paying off," she said in praise of the coach. "The group is a very dynamic and energetic kind of group and we push each other," she explained further.
"So it's just a good environment for training," she concluded, "and so it's just coming together well so we thank God for that."
Her old personal best was 6.44m.