Big leap for Gayle after injury-riddled seasons
FORMER WORLD long jump champion Tajay Gayle has come a long way after two injured-plagued years.
After getting back on the podium in Budapest, he feels he is slowly getting back to the version of himself that won him the world title four years ago.
Gayle finished third in the men’s long jump final with a season’s best effort of 8.27 metres, his first World Championships medal since taking the title in 2019. It has been a hard road since then.
He competed with an injury at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, then suffered another injury the following year, this time a bone bruise, ending his World Championships title defence in the first round.
In his best season since those injury struggles, Gayle said he had to battle the fear of getting injured again, resulting in a slower-than-normal approach. To complicate matters, he was having knee troubles two weeks before the championships
“My knee was hurting me two weeks ago and I wasn’t training for three days. So I would like to thank MVP and the staff for helping me to overcome that. It was a good day. We got silver and bronze. We wanted one, two and three but the boy (Miltiadis Tentoglou) showed up,” said Gayle.
Gayle shared the podium with his countryman Wayne Pinnock, who earned silver in his second World Championships, a historic achievement for the country.
Gayle fed off the euphoria of Pinnock’s world-leading 8.54 metres during the qualifiers and is now more optimistic about his own chances at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
“I was excited when Pinnock jumped the 8.50 because I knew, in training, I can do better. But it’s hard for me to really get the run up since that injury. But, by next year, everything will be good,” said Gayle.
Led by Pinnock, Jamaica completed a top-four finish, tail-ended by Carey McLeod, and Gayle is adamant the team can go a rung up.
“Yeah (that is good), but one-two-three sounds better.”