Throwers and jumpers will step up - Riley
As the world's fastest sprinter, Usain Bolt, prepares to hang up his spikes after the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, at least one coach is predicting that throwers and jumpers will save Jamaica's medal tally at future Olympics and World Championships.
"My Prediction: Throws & Jumps will save Jamaica's Olympics & WC (World Championships) medal tally in the "Post-BoltEra," Excelsior High School head coach David Riley said in a Facebook post on June 9.
People have been taking note as Jamaica's field event athletes have been winning titles on the United States College circuit this season.
High jumper Christoff Bryan of Florida State University (FSU) won the NCAA Division One title at the recent championships; Danielle Dodd of Kent State University won the women's shot put with a national record 19.15m, and Shadae Lawrence of Kansas State University won the women's discus, with another Jamaican, Kellion Knibb of FSU in third.
On Sunday, Fedrick Dacres, a former World Youth and World Junior discus Champion won the men's discus at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Riley, a long jump coach himself, says there has been a steady increase in the number of athletes who have been competing in the jumps and throws over the last six to seven years, and more importantly, those who come, stay.
"If you look at what is happening at the junior level from 2010-2011, In 2010 as well as in 2012 and 2014, we had a steady increase in the number of juniors that were participating in non-track events. (For) triple jumpers, high jumpers, discus throwers, and shot putters, it was a growing number of persons who had attained the international qualifying standards in non-track events, including Dacres," he said.
"So we have a crop of field events people who are actually sticking with it, and as they are getting older, they are benefiting from greater mastery. We had persons in the past persons who were switching. That's a factor; We usually lose them to other events. We have a crop of persons who are sticking to it. They like the events and we get a benefit from that," said Riley.
Dacres' coach, Julian Robinson agreed with Riley, to a point.
"The successful throwers now have been throwing for many years. "I think that Jamaica has the athletes to do well at the Olympics and WC, but for that to happen they are going to need support. If we can keep them in training for the next three to four years, we would likely get medals from them so the challenge is keeping our throwers in training," said Robinson.
Riley also pointed to Dacres' throw in Sweden as a natural progression given his trajectory since 2011, when he won the World Youth title in Lille, France.
"Dacres is not a light-weight. Against his peers he is the best and he is getting to the point that the people who are ahead of him are getting out of the sport. So it is a natural progression for someone who is consistently engaging himself in the activity," Riley said.
Many of the top athletes will return to the island for this weekend's JAAA National Junior and Senior Championships at the National Stadium. Riley said he does not expect anything major to change this soon.
"Participation should be strong and the role we have to play is to continue to encourage them by giving them the due attention that they need," Riley said.