High jumper Distin on her way up
In the 65 years since the respected United States (US) journal Track And Field News began to publish its annual world rankings, no Jamaican has ever been numbered in the top ten in the women’s high jump. That’s about to change, thanks to Lamara Distin. The Hanover native currently heads the world high jump performance list and is focused on big jumps in Eugene, the US city that will host the World Athletics Championships.
Distin, a 2018 World Under-20 finalist, cleared 1.97 metres on April 30 as a follow-up to a victory in March at the NCAA Indoor Championships for Texas A&M University. Responding to questions posed earlier this week, the five feet 11 inches Distin said: “I wasn’t at my best last year due to a minor injury and finished ninth at indoor nationals. So being able to win the championship this year means a lot to me. This demonstrates that my hard work is paying off.” The the 2021 NCAA Outdoor runner-up fell in love with the event when Rusea’s High coach Roderick Myles first introduced her to it. “I was initially scared,” she recounted, “but I soon realised what was going on. When I was 14 years old, I started doing well and made my first national team (Carifta Games) for high jump. Consistently winning and doing well in the event made me want to do it even more.”
The love was nurtured at Vere Technical and at Hydel High School and in 2019, she cleared a ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships record of 1.87 metres. The 22 year-old Distin now feels comfortable when she faces a bar set 10 centimetres higher.
“The 1.97 felt really great. I knew I had the ability to jump even higher,” she commented, “but I’m just staying focused and patient with myself.”
The cornerstone of her 2022 season so far is consistency. A month before the 1.97m, she cleared 1.96m to match the qualifying standard for the World Championships. During the indoor season, she twice surpassed 1.92m.
The key is an improved run-up.
“My approach was a major problem for me last year as I wasn’t consistent with it. So working on it allows me to be consistent, which definitely helps me this year,” she said. Last week, her consistency continued with a win at the South Eastern Conference championships where she jumped 1.95m.
Andrea Bruce and Audrey Reid, ninth and 11th in the 1972 Olympic Games final, Commonwealth Games medal winners Karen Beautle and Sheree Francis and past NCAA champions Mazel Thomas and Kimberly Williamson have shown Jamaica’s potential in the past. Her next sequence of meets, the NCAA Regionals, the NCAA Championships and the Jamaican Championships, hold the key to Distin’s continued rise. However, the self-styled ‘Jumpaholic’ is exercising patience.
“The Lord will make it happen when the timing is right. It’s all God’s plan. Just trusting the process,” she said cautiously.
Last year, she watched the Olympic Games from afar.
“My focus was to get the World Championships standard since I missed out on the Olympics last year,” she confessed.
A place in the top 10 awaits her.