Fri | Jul 23, 2021

Stona, Distin – From NCAA silver to Olympic hopefuls

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

Discus thrower Roje Stona and high jumper Lamara Distin emerged from last week’s NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, with silver medals.

Both set personal bests in Eugene, with Stona reaching 61.94 metres and Distin clearing 1.90 metres, and now they need even bigger marks to qualify for the Olympics.

Stona, an industrial engineering student at Clemson University, surprised himself in the second round in Eugene.

Speaking recently about a mark that makes him the seventh-best Jamaican discus throwers of all time, the big right-hander reflected: “You know, they say that it always is going to feel simpler and easier than your other throws. It was just different, it was a very technical throw for me and I wasn’t even going after anything. I was just saying, ‘Okay, let’s execute and get in a safe throw’; and when it went out there, it was, ‘Okay, that was a good one.’”


The Shawn Cobey-coached thrower added a measurement of 61.20 metres in the final round and now has his eye on the 66-metre Olympic qualifying standard.

“I will be at the National Championships just to compete and see what happens from there, because I still believe I’m able to qualify for the Olympics, just being in a good rhythm and good shape right now,” said the young man, who was twice the Carifta Games champion while at St Jago High School, where he was coached by Marlon Gayle.

Corey Bennett, who coached Distin to a Boys and Girls’ Championships high jump win for Hydel High in 2019, says hard work has lifted her performances.

“She loves what she does. She is probably one of the most, if not the most disciplined girl I have ever coached or had something to do with her development, and I think that as long as her passion remains, she will definitely get to the highest heights,” said Bennett of the Texas A&M University student athlete.

“She holds the Class One record for high jump at 1.87,” Bennett continued. “So she has improved by three centimetres, which is a major thing in the high jump event. She is still about six centimetres away from the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games (1.96m). I hope she achieves that or close to that. It really is just a blessing to have had something to do with her development.’’

Distin, a 2018 World Under-20 Championships high jump finalist, also won the triple jump for Hydel in 2019.

“I thought she was very talented in that event, but she’s in love with the high jump and I believe that her achievement is just a testimony of her dedication and the work she has put into the event,” Bennett underlined.

Distin attended Corinaldi Avenue Primary School, the Rusea’s High School, and Vere Technical High School before moving to Hydel.