Meet the Ricketts

Triple jumper Shanieka, husband/coach Kerry-Lee climb to global success

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

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DOHA, Qatar — One could call it a marriage made in heaven, but a connection suited for the track. Kerry-Lee Ricketts and Shanieka Ricketts epitomise just that.

It's a bond between coach and athlete that has helped the change from feeling like a family to actually being a family.

Over the years, a number of athletes have seen relationships with their coaches turn from platonic to romantic, either to success or dire failure.

Thankfully for the Ricketts, they have leaped into the realms of international success.

The 27-year-old Shanieka won silver at the World Athletics Championships, claiming the tag of the second best women's triple jumper in the world.

Plenty credit to her coach? Or is it her husband?

“Sometimes it can get a bit overbearing, but we try our best to separate the two. We try our best to make sure we leave what's on the track on the track and what's at home at home. It's not always easy but we try to maintain a balance,” said Shanieka.

Kerry-Lee replied: “In the middle of the night she is probably sleeping and I am up watching videos. And I have to wake her up, 'hey, hey Shanieka, wake up, look at this', and she would be like 'hey, leave me alone. Tomorrow I look at it'.”

“I am learning how to balance it. When I am home, it's family time and when at training, it's training time,” he added.

Shanieka has moved her personal best from 14.23 metres in 2015 to 14.93m. Jamaica's record of 15.16m is under threat if both she and her husband have their way.

“We started a platform from last year where she moved her personal best. We really wanted 15m and on projection she could have been. We got it, but it was a foul tonight (Saturday). We have a lot more work to be done. The good thing about it is we are working on the final phase. The first phase of the final stage we accomplished that. Next season we are going to finish up the last phase which is the extension and that is basically what is denying her from that 15m,” coach Ricketts pointed out.

The doting husband was smiling from ear to ear as his wife met the world press in the mix zone, answering question after question following her silver medal triumph.

“It's a silver but to me it's like a gold. Everything went to plan and I feel over the moon right now. The last World Championships she was actually eighth and the one before she was 11th. So now we are second and I am really happy for this.

“I feel happy for this year, and next year I am going to come back and keep working and knocking and knocking and knocking,” said Kerry-Lee.

Shanieka conceded that their relationship brings a unique twist to the achievement.

“It feels very special. I'm his first World Championships medallist and I think it's even more intimate because he is not only my coach he is also my husband. And I am just grateful for the partnership that we have and I am looking forward to greater things to come in the future,” she said.


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