Gayle could have company in Tokyo - Ricketts
It's a good bet that world champion Tajay Gayle will lead the line for Jamaica in the long jump at this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
However, there could be as many as three Jamaicans in the event in Tokyo even though Gayle was the only Jamaican to compete in the long jump in last year's World Championships.
That is the expert opinion of noted jumps coach Kerry-Lee Ricketts.Gayle already has attained the Olympic qualifying standard of 8.22 metres, but Ricketts expects others, including Wayne Pinnock of Kingston College, to follow suit.
"There are quite a few young jumpers. One that pops up is Odaine Lewis, who is very talented both in the long and triple jump," stated Ricketts, referring to the former Cornwall College leaper, who has reached 8.09 metres, while attending Texas Tech University.Having watched Pinnock span 8.05 metres to break a 26-year-old 'Champs' Class One record last year, Ricketts believes that the outgoing Kingston College (KC) senior has a chance to board the flight to Tokyo.
"There's a young guy at KC, (Wayne) Pinnock, who definitely, 8.20m is not beyond him," added Ricketts, who coaches world triple jump runner-up Shanieka Ricketts."I think those two could be the next two, and I'm not writing off Damar Forbes, who, basically, had an injury last season," he added.
In the same category as 2016 Olympic finalist Forbes is 2017 World Championship team member Ramone Bailey.
After taking back-to-back National titles in 2017 and 2018, Bailey was slowed last year by hamstring trouble. Also in with a chance is reigning inter-collegiate champion Shawn-D Thompson.The new wave of long jumpers figure prominently on the Jamaica all-time performance list.
Gayle is number one with his gold medal-winning leap of 8.69 metres. Forbes is number four at 8.29m, ahead of Bailey and Thompson, who share the number six spot at 8.13m, and Lewis and Pinnock, who appear at number 10 and 14, respectively.If three Jamaicans do qualify for the Tokyo long jump, it would be a first at the Olympics and the World Championships.
In this regard, 1997 is a benchmark as James Beckford and Maurice Wignall, known more for his prowess as a hurdler, contested the World Championship final in Athens, Greece. That's the only time when two Jamaicans have qualified for a World or Olympic long jump final.Victor Brooks in 1968, Beckford in 1996 and 2004, and Forbes are the only men from this country to compete in an Olympic long jump final, with Beckford winning a silver medal in 1996.