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Gayle pushing for sprint relay spot at Olympics

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The first ever Jamaican long jump World Champion, Tajay Gayle, has his sights set on becoming one of the top sprinters locally and he started the journey at last Saturday’s Milo Western Relays, held at the G.C. Foster College.

Competing in the 60 metres, Gayle placed fifth in 6.87 seconds, in a race won by his MVP Track Club teammate Asafa Powell in 6.73.

The former Papine High School student told The Gleaner that he was not expecting a fast time because he knew the venue would have a lot of wind.

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

For coach Paul Francis, this was a part of the training process. “Sprinting is a part of long jumping. Let’s wait and see how the year progresses,” Francis said.

Gayle wasn’t focusing on a big performance since they had some very hard training the day before, which made him feel heavy.

At the end of the afternoon, the jumper was also part of MVP 4x100m relay team with Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, and Julian Forte. They finished third in 38.90, beaten by winners Sprintec Lions, 38.56, and runners-up Sprintec, 38.75.

In addition to the long jump, Gayle is seeking a place on the country’s sprint relay team at the Olympics as well as the individual 100m.

“That’s my coach’s idea. But if my coach says I can do it, I guess I can,” the World long jump champion noted.

Asked how well he thinks his athlete will do in the sprint events, Francis said: “I can’t predict the future, 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 his starts as he has not been doing enough in his area.

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

After becoming a World Champion with a 8.69m jump in Doha, Qatar, last year, he also became a professional athlete when he signed with Puma a few weeks ago.

“I’m the same person, nothing has changed,” Gayle observed. “People recognise me more, that’s the only difference I have noticed.”

Melena Helias