Long jumper Thompson impresses with 8.20m at Milo Western Relays; targets Tokyo Olympics

Observer writer

Saturday, February 15, 2020

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The Milo Western Relays has become famous for the exciting and competitive race between high schools and even colleges, so fans who turned up at the 'new' venue G C Foster College were anticipating as much last week Saturday.

For the second year in a row, the event, which is normally kept at Montego Bay Stadium in Catherine Hall, St James, was held at the St Catherine venue, much to the chagrin of organisers.

However, the competitors made the event as special as it usually is and then there was Shawn-D Thompson.

The G C Foster College student, basking in the proverbial comforts of home, took full advantage as he stole the show late in the afternoon with a fantastic sequence in the long jump Open. He broke his own personal best twice, on the way to falling just short of the Olympic qualifying standard by two centimetres.

With cool conditions and a gentle wind at this back, Thompson threatened to jump out of the pit as he sailed through the air on his last two efforts.

When Thompson opened with a distance of 7.97m, the writing was definitely on the wall that something special was in the making. His second jump of 7.95m showed that the first was no fluke. After a no-jump on his third attempt, the diminutive athlete then equalled his best jump of the day with another mark 0f 7.97m.

After passing on his fifth attempt, the 23-year-old then went beyond his previous personal best of 8.13m set at the Racers Grand Prix Meet at National Stadium last year, when he registered a new best of 8.16m.

As news of the 8m jump filtered around the stadium all eyes were on the long jump, and Thompson did not disappoint on his final attempt.

Digging deep and soaring high, the 2019 intercollegiate champion registered a final jump of 8.20m for a second personal best in a matter of minutes. His final attempt was just shy of the Olympic standard of 8.22m.

Needless to say, the athlete was just as surprised as the fans that he was able to leap so far so early in the season.

“It was actually an extraordinary performance, to be honest. I didn't expect it, but I am naturally grateful for it,” he said.

With Tokyo on the lips of everyone, Thompson explained that he was just as focused on Japan as everyone else.

“I am still under a lot of load so I am just accepting it as how it is and looking forward to the 2020 Olympic Games,” Thompson noted.

He expects to compete at the historic Gibson McCook Relays at the end of the month and is hoping for something special there as well.

“The 2020 Gibson McCook Relays will speak for itself. Hopefully, everything will be alright by then. I am actually surprised to be doing this today [last Saturday] to be honest, but…I am just taking it step by step.”

Marlon Gayle has been conditioning the athlete since his arrival at G C Foster College and the trust between the two has been bringing tremendous success.

“I just accept what life gives me. The coach knows what he is doing, so I have to trust his process,” Thompson reasoned.

At the rate that Thompson is progressing, he may just join Tajay Gayle and make it so that Jamaica has two men participating in the long jump at the Olympic Games this year.

The 8.20m mark makes Thompson the fifth-best Jamaican ever in the long jump, behind Ron Chambers, Damar Forbes, Alain Bailey, James Beckford and of course World Champion Tajay Gayle who leads the way with 8.69m.

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