Long jumper Bailey targets top 10
A solid start to his 2018 season has national long jump champion Ramone Bailey expecting good things this year. He is targeting the NACAC Championship,s which are set for August in Toronto, Canada, and he is anticipating jumps well beyond his personal best.
His wind-assisted winning distance of 7.90m at the G.C. Foster Classic has given him a positive vista for 2018.
"I wasn't jumping this far last season. I never usually jump this far this early in the season," he remarked recently, "so I'm very hopeful for the rest of the season."
Reunited last year with his high-school coach, David Riley, the jumper is seeing big numbers in his future. He became national champion with a personal best of 8.16m in the final round and expects to stretch that. Asked to specify his goals for 2018, he said, "Top five, hopefully, at NACAC and anything within the 8.30-8.40 range from then on."
That would make him the number-two Jamaican long jumper of all time behind James Beckford, whose national record stands at 8.62m, and ahead of Damar Forbes, the Olympian with a best of 8.29m. He beat Forbes to win the 2017 Jamaica title and at the G.C. Foster Classic, and he outjumped Tajay Gayle, who leapt a personal best of 8.12m for fourth place at the Commonwealth Games.
Last Saturday, at the first JAAA All-Comers meet of the season, Bailey jumped 7.82m to place second to Gayle, who cleared 8.02m.
As a lad, Bailey won the 2011 Boys and Girls' Championships' Class 1 long jump for Wolmer's Boys' School. Now, in his second year back from Texas Christian University, he revealed his big distance at the National Trials last year took him and Coach Riley by surprise.
"I was hoping to do it within two years of being in the programme", he reflected, "so 2018 should be showing some jumps, hopefully, top-10 jumps in the world this year."
In 2017, the joint 10th longest jumpers in the world were Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece and Sweden's Michel Torneus, who both achieved the distance of 8.30m.
Riley directs several jumpers including Bailey's former Wolmer's teammate Kamal Fuller at Excelsior High School, and Bailey said that the environment helps.
"I usually like when someone's pushing me and when I'm pushing someone, having that feeling of team", he explained, "so given that we have more jumpers, it's definitely a huge plus for me."