'Love' pursuit

Sports

'Love' pursuit

J'can discus thrower plans return to FSU to take care of unfinished business

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

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HER first degree in accounts safely tucked away, Shanice Love has unfinished business at Florida State University (FSU) — and she hopes to return this coming year to take care of what is outstanding.

The former Excelsior High standout, who represented Jamaica at the World Athletics World Championships in Doha last year, says she will take up the option for an additional year after the NCAA had cancelled the outdoors season out of concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra year, Love says, would help her begin her master's in accountancy, try to break an FSU discus record, win an NCAA title, as well as try to make the Jamaican team to the Olympic Games.

“Yes, they [FSU] are paying for my master's, so I will compete for them next year,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

“Yes, Olympics is a dream and I will continue to train and see where it can take me,” hinting she could test the professional waters.

To even attempt all of that would be a big ask but Love, who was one of only two Jamaican junior throwers to compete at two World Under-20 Championships, is used to taking on big jobs and succeeding.

She competed at the World Under-20 in Oregon, USA in 2014, and was also on the team two years later that competed in Bydgoszcz, Poland, matching shot putter Ashinia Miller who attended the events held in Moncton, Canada in 2010 and Barcelona, Spain in 2012.

Her four years in Tallahassee went fast and the shy, always smiling Excelsior ISSA Champs Class One discus record holder has developed into a world-class thrower under the watchful eyes of Coach Dorian Scott.

It was hard work and determination, Love said, that allowed her to complete her degree while maintaining a busy competition schedule, but there is no time to relax as working on her master's and competing this coming year will be just as hard.

Success is nothing new to her, however, as she was a three-time USTFCCCA (US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-Academic honoree, but was left off the list this year.

“I have been performing well for my entire four years academically. I don't know how that works but I didn't compete this year because of COVID, and I guess that's where the All- American title comes in. I honestly don't know how that works. I just focus on my schoolwork and training and the awards will follow,” Love said.

She was, however, included in the 2020 Academic All-America Track & Field/Cross Country team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the programme's first woman to achieve the honour since Colleen Quigley and Hannah Acton in 2015, and the first overall since Stefan Brits in 2016, according to the FSU Track and field website.

Asked to weigh both academics and track and field Love, who won the Penn Relays discus title three times for Excelsior in 2016 and back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019 while at FSU, said: “School was more important to me because sometimes being an athlete doesn't always go as planned. But, I put maximum effort into both and my goal is to excel in both. I treat them equally and I try to maintain that balance.”

After the 2019 season, her best statistically during which she threw 61.54m at the FSU Relays, breaking the Mike Long Track record previously held by former teammate and Jamaican countrywoman Kellion Knibb, Love said she was ready for an even bigger 2020 season when the plug was pulled on that period.

“I was disappointed when the season was cancelled because I was getting ready to open my season. It ended before I even started, but I kept telling myself sometimes things happen for a reason,” Love noted.

She will get another chance to better the 2019 season and Love says her main motivators are “my coach [Scott], my mentor [Mr Michael Vassell], and the entire FSU family”.

If she is going to beat her achievements from 2019 Love has a long way to go after her second-place spot at the NCAA championships, her first time making the national final, going to the World Championships which she described as “a dream come true”. She also won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title and the NCAA East Preliminary, then recorded all six throws in excess of 60 meters at the NCAA, including back-to-back personal bests of 61.74m and 62.69m, the latter just shy of Knibbs' FSU programme record 62.74m set in 2017.

Last year Love also won her first international title — gold medal the NACAC Senior Championships in Mexico — and was sixth at the Pan Am Games in Peru before ending the long season with 16th place in Doha.


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