Hubert Lawrence | Dacres - Jamaican male athlete of the year
In 2018, Jamaica's Fedrick Dacres walked into the circle to compete in the discus throw on 25 occasions. He emerged victorious 21 times, taking five wins from six starts on the IAAF Diamond League and finished six meets with marks beyond 68 metres. That's a 2018 campaign no other male Jamaican athlete can match.
It's ironic that in the first season since the incomparable Usain Bolt, that a thrower is the top Jamaican of the year. Schooled on sprints, local fans simply had to admire Dacres as he pumped out victory after victory over the rest of the world's best. His stunning portfolio peaked with a national record of 69.67 metres in Stockholm, a distance that took him closer to the holy grail of the 70-metre territory.
His wins didn't come cheaply and those nine meets over 68m are a testament to his consistent quality. The foundation has been built on hard work at the University of the West Indies, which often includes sessions where Dacres and his training partners Traves Smikle, Basil Bingham and Isheka Binns each launch dozens of throws in search of gold-medal technique.
Already the first Jamaican to win a throwing event at World Youth and World Junior levels, the Julian Robinson-coached Dacres waved the flag with wins at the Commonwealth Games in April, the Athletics World Cup and at the IAAF North American Central American and Caribbean Championship in July. Last week, with an eight-win streak on the line in the last round of the IAAF Continental Cup, he fought off the forces of physics to stay balanced as he uncorked a 67.97m winner.
Of the 10 Jamaicans at the Continental Cup, only he and 100-metre hurdler Danielle Williams managed individual wins.
110 metres hurdler Ronald Levy, a winner at the Commonwealth Games and at the Paris and London Diamond League meets, and the exciting Akeem Bloomfield, who followed his fine collegiate 400-metre running with a super 200-metre clocking of 19.81 seconds in London, laid the base for big campaigns next year, when the World Championship come into focus again, but Dacres was way ahead.
Sadly, injury sidelined hurdler supreme Omar McLeod before he could get into full stride.
A knee niggle and the analysis of Dacres' four losses present a note of caution. He was defeated twice by Lithuania's world champion Andrius Gudzius and twice by Daniel Stahl of Sweden, who was the runner-up when the Worlds were last staged in 2017. They saw his ascent this year and will steel themselves for the confrontation in Doha, where the World Championships will be staged between September 28 and October 6.
Simply put, Fedrick is a clear pick for the title of Jamaican male athlete of the year. His super season puts the matter beyond doubt.
- Hubert Lawrence watched Dacres win at the Charlie Fuller Memorial at Manchester High in January.