Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Gayle optimistic after Western Relays

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:17 AM
MVP Track Club’s Asafa Powell (left) competes against Sprintec Lions’ Andrew Fisher (centre) and MVP teammate Tajay Gayle to win the 60m dash in 6.72 seconds at the Milo Western Relays at the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in Spanish Town, St Catherine last Saturday.
MVP Track Club’s Asafa Powell (left) competes against Sprintec Lions’ Andrew Fisher (centre) and MVP teammate Tajay Gayle to win the 60m dash in 6.72 seconds at the Milo Western Relays at the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in Spanish Town, St Catherine last Saturday.

Jamaica’s national long jump record holder and reigning world champion Tajay Gayle says he was not expecting a fast time when he competed at the Milo Western Relays at the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in Spanish Town, St Catherine, last week.

Gayle, who has ambitions of sprinting at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, finished fifth in the 60m race in a time of 6.87 seconds. His MVP Track Club teammate Asafa Powell took victory in 6.73 seconds.

The former Papine High School student told The Gleaner said that his time was affected by the wind at the venue.

“The time doesn’t really matter,” the 23-year-old said. “I would have been satisfied with anything, even 7.0s. I’m just here to get competition experience in sprints.”

For coach Paul Francis, this was a part of the training process.

“Sprinting is a part of long jumping,” Francis said. “Let’s wait and see how the year progresses.”

Gayle said he was not focusing on a performance since they had what he considers hard training the day before, which made him feel heavy.

At the end of the afternoon, the jumper was also part of MVP’s 4x100m relay team, with Powell, Nesta Carter and Julian Forte. They finished third in 38.90s, behind Sprintec Lions and Sprintec Track Club, who ran 38.56s (equalling the meet record) and 38.75s respectively.

Gayle says ambitions of sprinting in Tokyo originated with his coach.

“If my coach says I can do it, I guess I can,” he said.

Francis however refused to speculate about how well he could perform as a sprinter.

“I can’t predict the future,” Francis said. “We’re just trying our best to prepare him. And what will happen, will happen at the Trials.”

Until then, Gayle thinks he has to improve mostly in the block starts.

“Within technical sessions, I’m doing jumps while others are sprinting, so I don’t get the chance to work on it a lot,” he said.

In terms of long jump, Gayle focuses on bettering his second hitch. He is confident that he will be ready on time.

“We have a long season, everything will be fine by the end of the season,” he said.

After becoming a World champion with a distance of 8.69m at the World Athletics Championships Doha, Qatar, last year, Gayle became a professional athlete when he signed with Puma a few weeks ago.

“I’m the same person,” he said. “Nothing has changed. People recognise me more, that’s the only difference I noticed.”

-Melena Helias