Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Hickling inspired by Tajay Gayle

Published:Friday | January 17, 2020 | 12:48 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Tajay Gayle made a breakthrough last year in Doha, when he became Jamaica’s first world champion in the long jump. One coach says Gayle has inspired all jumpers and among them is Tissanna Hickling, the Pan American Games bronze medallist. Her coach Marlon Gayle is hoping she will compete with the best this year at the Olympics.

The coach has witnessed a Gayle effect on those he works with at the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in Spanish Town.

“It has been an inspiration to all male and female jumpers, especially my charges at GC Foster. They are inspired,” he said. “They also believe in doing more running and so forth now. It should definitely be a very interesting season whenever they open.”

Regarding Hickling, who won the National Championships before she got her PanAm bronze, he said, “One of the main objectives is to use the experience, 2019 experience, pretty much to get her in gear for 2020. Based on what we have been doing now, she has shown a greater level of maturity as it relates to the event. She is more conscious, she’s more aware of what she’s doing and so forth and that’s always something good to see.”

Her training includes sprint work with Sprintec head coach Maurice Wilson and her progress has made coach Gayle optimistic.

“I think she is in the frame of mind and the Tokyo dream is something I believe will come true, and not just to participate or to be a member of the team, but looking forward to producing something that we haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

Jamaica has only one Olympic medal in the women’s long jump, the bronze medal earned by Chelsea Hammond in 2008.

The coach has seen his top male long jump charge Shawn-D Thompson respond the same way Hickling has.

“He’s more inspired now, you know, he’s more inspired now,” coach Gayle said.

Thompson, the reigning Inter-Collegiate champion, had a jump that matched the World Championship distance of 8.17 metres in last May but the aiding wind was just over the allowable limit.

Hickling missed the final in Doha and watched as teammate Chanice Porter placed eighth with German Malaika Mihambo taking the gold medal. Coach Gayle said Hickling is focused on the final this year.

“She had the experience, even before World Champs, to compete with them and, so forth, and in fact the young lady from Germany, we have been eyeing her and I told her if she’s going to do well, she has to emulate such a female, and it so happened that she became the champion at World Champs,” he said. “She’s inspired by it and we just want to continue to work towards that goal as the season progresses.”