Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Triple jump queen proud of Gayle, Ricketts

Published:Saturday | November 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Trecia Smith, Jamaica’s 2005 World triple jump champion, was delighted to see the nation’s performances in the jumps at the 17th IAAF World Championships. Smith says Tajay Gayle, winner of the long jump there, could become a superstar.

“Like everybody else, I was very proud,” said the 44-year-old Smith from her home base in the USA. “We’ve come close to gold in the long jump, you know, James Beckford, but we never actually managed to pull it off, so it was a very proud moment to see this youngster be able to do it, especially in the calibre of field that he was in.”

She was mightily impressed with Gayle’s national record jump of 8.69m and sees more ahead for the 23-year-old.

“He has a lot of room for improvement,” she predicted. “I just hope he stays injury free and keeps showing up like he did for these meets and, yeah, we have a next superstar.”

Beckford won silver medals in the long jump at the 1995 World Championships, the 1996 Olympics and the 2003 World Championships and held the national record at 8.62m before Gayle’s blockbuster in Doha, Qatar.

The 2004 and 2012 Olympic finalist also had high praise for Ricketts who won Jamaica’s first triple jump medal since 2005.

“From she came on the scene, I thought that if she got it right, she would challenge not only the world scene, she would challenge my record, for sure, and surpass my record,” the woman who holds the Jamaican standard at 15.16m said.

Noting that the 27-year-old Ricketts has moved her personal best from 14.00m in 2014 to 14.57m in 2016, 14.61m last year, and 14.93m this season, Smith observed, “Each year, you could see just a steady progression and that’s what I like to see.”

The former Mannings High School and University of Pittsburgh star also showered fourth placer Kimberly Williams, who bounded to a personal best of 14.64 metres in her third World Championships final, with praise.

“Kimberly is where I was towards the end of my career, getting injured, getting older, so for her to come out a finalist again, it’s a credit to her, her strength, her mental fortitude.”

Williams, who turned 31 on November 3, has followed Smith’s two Commonwealth wins with two of her own. The 2005 World Champion thinks Doha will spur her on to Tokyo and the 2020 Olympics. “She did us proud,” Smith added.