Tue | Dec 6, 2022

Gayle at peace despite fitness concerns

Long jump World champion not perturbed about possibility of missing title defence

Published:Wednesday | July 13, 2022 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Tajay Gayle competes in the men’s long jump finals at the 2019 IAAF World Athletic Championships  held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday September 28, 2019.
Tajay Gayle competes in the men’s long jump finals at the 2019 IAAF World Athletic Championships held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday September 28, 2019.
Long jumper Tajay Gayle (centre) is carried away by medical staff after he sustained an injury during the men’s long jump competition on day three of the JAAA National Senior and Junior Championships at the National Stadium in June.
Long jumper Tajay Gayle (centre) is carried away by medical staff after he sustained an injury during the men’s long jump competition on day three of the JAAA National Senior and Junior Championships at the National Stadium in June.
Defending World long jump champion Tajay Gayle at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona on his way to Eugene, Oregon.
Defending World long jump champion Tajay Gayle at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona on his way to Eugene, Oregon.
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Eugene, Oregon:

A YEAR ago Tajay Gayle was determined to power through excruciating pain at the Tokyo Olympics in a bid to leave a mark in Japan. A year later, the defending world champion is injured again, but replacing the trepidation about not being able to compete is a sense of calm.

Gayle, and other Jamaicans arrived in Eugene on Monday night with the former sporting big questions surrounding his health after a leg injury, suffered at the JAAA National Senior and Junior Championships, forced him to discontinue the competition.

He only returned to training last Friday.

Initial scans on the leg he landed awkwardly on showed a bruised bone and even after intense rehab, his participation in this Friday’s qualification at 8:00 p.m. Jamaica time is in doubt.

“Many might say that I should have just run through (continue). But I aborted the jump instead of running through and based on the results, you saw that the leg hyperextended and the MRI showed that I have a bruise on the bone,” Gayle told The Gleaner.

“I am not sure if it cracked. I think it cracked. But it caused massive swelling. It was a lot of fluid that the doctor drew out to get the swelling down. For the most part, we are working to keep the swelling down and from getting out of hand. Because if it swells again, I cannot compete.”

INJURED ON FIRST ATTEMPT

A year ago, Gayle advanced to the Olympic long jump final but injured his knee on his first attempt, powering through the pain during the final to finish 11th.

While that medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury is behind him, the experience could play a role in a more cautious approach to competing on Friday.

“The initial injury with the MCL has healed quite well, it is just the recent bone bruise. In terms of strengthening of the leg, I have been doing that since after the injury. Maybe it can hold up, maybe not. I don’t know yet until I really start training. I am not sure when,” Gayle said.

“My coach will let me know by Friday depending on how my knee holds up in training. We will see in training and hope for the best.”

Whether or not Gayle is on the runway for a title defence, he says that he is at peace with whatever the outcome and is determined to appreciate his Eugene experience in every way possible.

“In terms of feeling. I am not feeling any way. I am always a happy guy and whatever circumstances may be. I’m just here to enjoy the show.”

If a title defence is not on the cards, national champion Wayne Pinnock will be the lone representative to carry the torch for Jamaica. Pinnock is making his senior championship debut. His personal best of 8.14m is the 18th best jump in the world this year.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com