Sat | Apr 20, 2024

I knew I belonged – Pinnock

Published:Saturday | August 26, 2023 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton celebrates with her bronze medal after finishing third in the women’s 400m hurdles final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton celebrates with her bronze medal after finishing third in the women’s 400m hurdles final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
Wayne Pinnock (left) and Tajay Gayle celebrate after mining silver and bronze respectively in the men’s long jump final at the  2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
Wayne Pinnock (left) and Tajay Gayle celebrate after mining silver and bronze respectively in the men’s long jump final at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
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BUDAPEST, Hungary

Last year, Wayne Pinnock knew he belonged on the big stage.

Yesterday at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, he proved it, leading a Jamaican podium finish in the men’s long jump final and starting a medal rush on Day Six of the championships with five medals mined.

Pinnock’s first World Championships medal was silver, with a leap of 8.50 metres, 0.02 away from Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece, who won the world title with 8.52m on his final attempt. Former world champion Tajay Gayle was third with a season’s best effort of 8.27m, his first medal since winning that title in 2019. Carey McLeod was fourth, also with 8.27, as Jamaica had three jumpers in the top-four.

Last year in Oregon, Pinnock made his World Championships debut and advanced to the final despite a season that has been plagued by injury, which caused him to contemplate whether he wanted to go to the championships. He eventually went, thanks to the counsel of his father.

Fast-forward 12 months later. He says that the achievement was proof that he was already ready for the moment.

“I have to thank God. He made this possible. From last season I knew that the field wasn’t better than me, and I didn’t get the chance to show my true potential. But then this season, I just dedicated myself to it. And I pulled it off,”Pinnock said. “Seeing all of those jumps on YouTube (of the elite athletes) every day, that gave me the motivation to be here. I am just forever grateful. Words can’t express how I feel about the silver medal.”

Pinnock credited his coach at the University of Arkansas, Travis Goefpt, for not only the faith shown in him since recruiting him from the University of Tennessee, but also keeping him healthy all season. He dedicated the medal to his young daughter, who has been his constant source of inspiration.

“I did this for my baby girl, Zahara. She made all of this possible. I went out there. I had nothing on my mind. My mind was clear, just go out there and compete. And I got a silver,” Pinnock said.

After two injury-ridden seasons, Gayle is grateful for his first medal in four years, finally overcoming the mental barrier that has been affecting him and is confident about getting back to his best

“It feels great, honestly. The injuries kind of developed a phobia during the run-ups so I don’t want to run too fast because of the fear of getting hurt again. It is something that I have been overcoming from last year onward to this year. I am sure I am going to get it by next year,” Gayle said.

Four years after her first World Championships medal (a bronze) Rushell Clayton smashed her lifetime best to again place third in the women’s 400m hurdles in 52.81 seconds, becoming the third fastest Jamaican of all time in the event. Femke Bol of the Netherlands (51.70) won gold and American Shamier Little (52.80) pocketed the silver medal.

“I needed this one. This means the world to me,” Clayton said.

“Yesterday morning I woke up and I was thinking about everything that I have been through this season. All my health conditions, and I still managed to push through. I literally woke up very nervous. I was, like, ‘Coach, I’m nervous’. And he (Reynaldo Walcott) said, ‘You want something (a medal). And if you didn’t want it, you wouldn’t be feeling how you have been feeling,’ “ Clayton said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com