Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Gayle eyes spot on medal podium

Published:Saturday | August 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe

LONDON, England:

Debutante 400 metres athlete, Stephen Gayle, says he's excited about getting his IAAF World Championships experience underway in today's heats inside the London Stadium.

Gayle, who finished in third place at the National Senior Championships in June, after a solid season that saw him hit a top time of 44.99 seconds, while competing on the US collegiate circuit - the fastest time he has ever registered in his young career.

The 23 year-old may not boast the biggest profile in the men's 400m field, which of course features heavy-hitters like Wayde van Niekerk, the world and Olympic champion and world record holder in the event, America's Fred Kerly and Botswana's Isaac Makwala, who have all gone 43 seconds this season.

However, Gayle has his eyes set firmly on achieving his objective - a spot on the medal podium. If it doesn't come in the flat 400m, the youngster will be called upon to run a big leg on the 4x400m relay team, which is certainly in the mix for a podium finish.

"I am really excited, this is a big stage in track and field and everybody would like to be in this position so I am ready and excited," said Gayle, who anchored Jamaica to a bronze medal in the 4x400m at the World Relays in The Bahamas earlier this season.

"I think I am really well prepared coming off the NCAA system so right now I am in shape and ready to go, it's just a matter of executing, he added.

Gayle says he understands the importance of playing his part in ensuring that Jamaica's youngsters continue to turn in impressive performances at this level, while admitting that he is still in shock to be here representing the country at such an important athletics championship.

"Jamaica's team is now experiencing a lot of younger persons coming through and we have a responsibility to take over from the other guys. We understand what it is and we are all ready and focused to do well," Gayle said.

"I'm still amazed I'm here to be honest but importantly, I am not nervous, shocked or afraid. I know all I have to do is continue doing what I have been doing the entire year and this will go well. Taking away a medal from this championships - that's the main thing, that's the main focus," said Gayle.