Four Jamaicans in World Champs discus?
Jamaica has increased its presence in the World Championship discus final from one thrower in 2015 to two in 2017. Buoyed by a productive season where he found new levels of distance and consistency, Chad Wright foresees that number doubling when the 2019 World Championships open on September 28. He expects to build on his improvement this year to 65.47 metres and hopes a big throw early next year will get him into the IAAF Diamond League.
After a season where his old Calabar High School teammates Fedrick Dacres and Traves Smikle went one-two at the Commonwealth Games, Wright thinks the discus is becoming a big event for Jamaica.
"I feel good, especially knowing that in the coming year," he predicted, "there will be about five to six over 60, 61 metres, and I can see four of us going to the World Champs."
Jason Morgan competed in the 2007 edition but Jamaica was absent until Morgan made it again in 2013. In 2015, Dacres placed seventh. Last year, Dacres and Traves Smikle finished fourth and eighth in the final. Given that Dacres is the 2018 Diamond League discus champion, Wright is backing him to do it again.
"You have to win the Diamond League next year", he outlined, "which after winning this year, it shouldn't be difficult, plus I already told Fedrick that if he doesn't win, I'll do it myself."
Wright boosted his confidence with a whirlwind season that saw him extend his three-year-old personal best of 65.03 metres to 65.47m while shooting past 62 metres in 10 competitions.
"It didn't feel that good," he reflected on his July 29 effort in Schillange, Luxembourg. "I felt like it could have gone further," he said.
Remarkably, that personal best came in his fourth meet in a week as Wright dotted Europe in search of competition. "I just wish I had a bigger throw for the season," he calculated, "but being consistent for 10 meets over 62m and 10 meets over 60 metres, I'd say it's a great achievement for myself because I've never done that many meets in two months."
His season was hectic. "There was one meet when I actually made it to the hotel two hours before competing," he recalled. It didn't hamper him too much as he also produced marks of 64.42 and 64.12 metres.
A star at Calabar, Wright made history in 2012 when he became the first Jamaican to win a throwing event at the NCAA Championship while a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska. Sixth in the 2014 Commonwealth Games where Morgan won the bronze medal, Wright threw well at the 2015 Worlds but missed the final.
He hopes for a good start to next season.
"If I get in a big throw early, it should get me into the Diamond League and World Challenge meets", he theorised, "so I wouldn't have to be all over the place, but I honestly don't mind doing that all over again because I'll be more prepared for it."
Wright has high praise for a younger group of throwers, including newly crowned World Under-20 champion Kai Chang and the athlete who broke his Carifta Games Under-20 record, Roje Stona. Set in the last round of the 2010 final at 63.10 metres, it survived until Stona twirled his disc out to 66.41m last year.
"They're a cut above the rest," he lauded. Specifically on Chang, he said, "He's going to throw over 60 metres with the 2K next year, at least for sure."
Under 20 athletes use an implement weighing 1.75kgs, while the men's discus weighs 2kgs.