Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Top shot - Vassell backs Thomas-Dodd to dominate event

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/ Gleaner Writer
Thomas-Dodd

A day will come when Jamaica's Danniel Thomas-Dodd is the number one shot-putter in the world.

That's the expert view of Michael Vassell, the throwing coach assigned to the national team at the recent World Indoor Championships in England.

Vassell says Thomas-Dodd is on a path to distances well beyond her personal best.

The throws guru was present in Arena Birmingham when the 2017 outdoor World Championships fourth-place finisher launched a lifetime best throw of 19.22 metres to secure the silver medal and was suitably impressed.

Speaking in praise of Thomas-Dodd and her Kent State University coach, Nathan Fanger, Vassell said: "I must say she and her coach did a lot of work, and it is evident, and I think she has the fall work to get to 19.8 - possibly 20 - metres, and I hope we'll see that some time this year."

"I don't know when, but I know that based on that path she is on, she will get it out to 20 metres this year, and I think she should be the number-one thrower in the world," Vassell said, continuing his projections for the former Frome Technical and Edwin Allen Comprehensive High athlete.

 

WORLD LEADER

 

China's World champion Gong Lijiao was the only putter to breach the 20-metre barrier in 2017. Her world-leading throw measured 20.11 metres.

Snow shut down transport to Arena Birmingham during the World Indoor Championships and, like others on the Jamaican team, Thomas-Dodd had to walk through the adverse weather just to get to the competition venue.

"She has that energy about her, that determination, that I knew that if there's anybody who was going to walk to that stadium that night, it would have been Danniel Thomas-Dodd, because she was not going to miss it," Vassell shared.

Vassell, who has staged throws-only meets for more than a decade in addition to coaching at Kingston College, St Hugh's High School and now Excelsior High School, was emotional when the silver medal was secured.

"That was a watershed moment for throws in Jamaica, and for me, it was something of a vindication to know that after all these years, we had gotten to a point where we could match up with the best in the world on both the men's and the women's sides", he said. "Because remember O'Dayne Richards had gotten a bronze at the outdoor Worlds already."

The godfather of the local throws movement went on to describe Thomas-Dodd as an inspiration.

"There are so many girls now who are looking on and saying, 'That could be me one day'."