André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
When James Beckford won Jamaica's first long jump medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics back in 1995, Damar Forbes was just about getting ready to start primary school.
Eighteen years later, Forbes is looking to follow in the steps of a man he grew up idolising; a man who not only stood on the podium at that Göteborg Championships, but also at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
He is already well on his way, as yesterday's qualification to the long jump final, which takes place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. inside the Luzhniki Stadium, here at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, makes him the only Jamaican besides Beckford himself to reach the top 12 in the event at these championships.
However, Forbes is also looking to chart his own legacy in the sand pit, as he tries to make the most of his first trip to the final at a major championships after failing to move past the qualifying round at the last World Championships in Daegu in 2011, as well as last year's Olympic Games in London.
"It's an honour to be mentioned in the same statement with James Beckford, but I have to be ambitious. James Beckford got (two) silver (medals), and that's great, but I have to try and get a gold.
"I want one up on him because you're not an athlete unless you want to be great, so I have a lot of respect for James and I want to make everybody who loves James to feel better about the jumping of Jamaica," Forbes told The Gleaner after his 7.96m mark on his last attempt.
It was quite an interesting series for Forbes who, until his last jump, was staring down the barrel of another failure at the qualifying stage after coming off a foul on his previous attempt.
"When I was on the runway, I was thinking, 'Damn, I don't want this to happen again.' But I am just glad I am in the final and I am looking for big things. These are the best jumpers in the world, so I know I have to bring my A game," added Forbes.
Assessing his chances in the final, Forbes said: "I'm very optimistic. I have competed against these guys and I know what they are capable of and I think they know what I am capable of as well."
In an impressive season that has also seen him improve his personal best to 8.25 metres, Forbes has under his belt this wins at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division 1 and Paris Diamond League.
"I have a wind-aided 8:35m and 8.34m and a legal 8.25m. I'm just waiting for a breakthrough to go even further with the competition here," he noted. "It's been my best season ever, it's been a long season, but I think I'm mentally tough enough to get through. I have been here before and I know how to get past this."
Obviously, Forbes is on the right path. It's left to be seen just how well he takes flight from here.