'Higher level' - Dacres reaching new heights in discus event
RJRGLEANER Sportsman of the Year nominee, Fedrick Dacres, is thrilled to be among the nominees for the coveted award and said he knew all along that he could become one of the island's finest athletes across all disciplines.
This despite the fact that he competes in an event - the discus throw, that among Jamaicans is largely undermanned and generally unrecognised.
"This year has been a really good year. It is my best year and it is going to be hard to top this one, but I am definitely going to try," Dacres told The Gleaner.
Dacres, who made a strong claim for the 2018 Sportsman of the Year award after copping four major titles over the past season, was convinced from an early stage of his development, that his talent was enough to eventually threaten for medals on the global stage for his country. This, he shared, was underlined when he made it to the Summer Youth Olympic Games in the first year that he took up the event, back in 2010.
His performance in Singapore served as an eye-opener and a source of great motivation and played a big role in his development into a global track and field star.
"When I made it to the Youth Olympic Games in my first year, it showed me that I had a little bit of talent and I was the farthest thrower from the Caribbean," Dacres explained. "So because I was able to do that, I started believing that I had what it took to turn around Jamaica's throwing."
With his training partner Traves Smikle, Dacres brought Jamaica's discus throw to prominence, when they won back-to-back titles at the now defunct World Youth Championship in 2009 and 2011. With shot put standouts O'Dayne Richards and Danniel Thomas-Dodd also nominated for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards, Dacres forms part of a core of throwers, who have taken the events to the forefront of Jamaican athletics.
Dacres would follow up his World Youth title with the World Under 20 Championship crown in 2012, as he and his coach Julian Robinson, worked their way up the international throwing food chain.
"When I started throwing, my coach gave me a hint and said that I can win at World Youth, and after we did that, then we aimed at World Juniors and after we got that, we started to aim for the world standard (at the senior level) and eventually, we got there," Dacres explained.
Last year, the national record holder led all throwers in the discipline heading into the IAAF World Championships, but although he missed out on a medal then, he has certainly taken new flight in 2018, with a number of titles and key performances under his belt.
He became the first Jamaican to win gold in the discus event at the Commonwealth Games, when he and Smikle grabbed the quinella Gold Coast, Australia early in the year.
He followed up that performance with victories at the North America, Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships, the inaugural Athletics World Cup, and the Diamond League race in his event in a dominant display in the circle.
"I think I can truly say that I am one of the best throwers in the world now and it is a good feeling to be nominated for an award that has been won by some of the greatest athletes this country has produced," Dacres shared.
The RJRGLEANER Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards will be presented during a ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus on January 18, 2019.
Other male nominees are: Chris Binnie, Richards and Ronald Levy. The female award will be decided between Alia Atkinson, Aisha Praught Leer, Kadijah Shaw, Stafanie Taylor, Shamera Sterling, Janieve Russell, Shericka Jackson, Kimberly Williams, Thomas-Dodd and Shaniecka Ricketts.