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Richards targets top-three ranking

Published:Tuesday | February 3, 2015 | 2:00 AM

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Things could hardly have gone better for shot putter O'Dayne Richards in 2014.

Having broken through the international ranks, the stocky thrower is backing himself for even greater success this season.

Richards, the two-time national champion, won a historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a national and Games record 21.61 metres.

Weeks later, he finished runner-up at the Continental Cup in Marrakech, Morocco, despite competing on an injured ankle.

The 26 year-old also ended the year as the runner-up to the National Sportsman of the Year, boxer Nicholas Walters, a fitting homage to a season that not only propelled him, but by extension Jamaica's field events progress on the global stage.

"I want to say it (2014 season) couldn't have gone better, but God in his perfect way allowed it to be so, so for me it was perfect," Richards told The Gleaner in a recent interview.

Richards, who finished in the top five in six of his seven overseas competitions last season, is also prepared to deal with the heightened expectations around his performances, especially with this year's IAAF World Championships in Beijing on the horizon.

Worst Critic

The thrower closed last year in the number five spot and has ambitions of ending this year as one of the world's top three shot putters.

"Over the years I consider myself to be my worst critic, I hold myself to high standards and knowing the potential that I have, I still have high standards so nothing has changed really," Richards said. "I'm still looking to do better and better each year and this year is no exception.

"I'm excited, in fact I'm very excited about 2015, I just want to reiterate that I have high standards for myself and if I achieve my goals, I think I will end the year in the top three," Richards said.

"We've always had a history of good throwers in Jamaica and the juniors have shown us seniors that we can have success as well. I think that God has blessed the country with throwers, and from now on, I think we will make a mark on the international scene in the throws," said the powerfully built Richards, who, in congratulating Walters on his award, weighed up his own chances in the ring.

"Me a boxer? Maybe. Most people's jaws are made of glass, mine are probably made of feathers, so it would probably be a good idea," laughed Richards.