Winning World Championships triple-jump silver was 'like a dream come true' for Shanieka Ricketts Featured

Shanieka Ricketts after winning her second World Championships triple jump silver medal on Monday night. Shanieka Ricketts after winning her second World Championships triple jump silver medal on Monday night. Contributed

Shanieka Ricketts could not contain her joy when the reality set in that she was a World Championships triple jump silver medalist once again.

“I was overjoyed when I realized that I won the silver medal. It felt like redemption from missing the podium in Tokyo by a mere three centimetres,” she recalled while speaking with Sportsmax.TV earlier this week.

“When I remember the journey to the podium, the days that we could not train when the distances were not forthcoming, and all the times when we wondered if we would be ready, it really felt like a dream come true, and it would not be possible without the help of God, my coach Kerrylee Ricketts and my agent Norman Peart.”

After winning silver in Doha in 2019 behind the virtually invincible Venezuelan, Yulimar Rojas, Ricketts, as she pointed out, was unable to replicate the performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where her best effort of 14.84m was only good enough for fourth.

Fast forward to 2022 when armed with the lessons learnt from Tokyo, Ricketts encountered an unexpected new challenge early in the season.

“I started experiencing some tension in my knee in January. We had to take a break from doing technical sessions and it also restricted me from doing explosive lifts and sprints for some time,” she recounted.

Those early struggles manifested in the form of a few relatively off-colour performances -13.94m at the John Wolmer Speed Fest at the National Stadium in Kingston in March; 14.27m at the Velocity Fest 10 also in Kingston on April 2 and 14.15m seven days later at the USATF Bermuda Games.

She capped off the string of underwhelming performances with a 13.95m performance at Velocity Fest 11 at the National Stadium on April 23.

Notwithstanding, the underwhelming outings, Ricketts ended up a winner in each competition but she knew she had to be much better if she was to contend for a medal in Oregon.

In fact, she admits that her confidence began to wane as the marks were nowhere close to what she needed to be able to take on the world’s best come July.

“It did to some extent, especially when things were not going as planned,” she conceded, “but, I know that every season is different and sometimes challenges occur that you have to overcome in order to reach the goals that you have. So I did my best to focus on the things that I could control, trust my coach, trust the program and trust the process and hoped for the best.”

Sure enough, things began to change.

“Things began to improve in May and there were times when I wondered if I would be able to perform at my best at the world championships because I knew that in order to be on the podium I have to jump at least 14.70 and I have not seen that result all year,” she explained.

On May 13, she produced a season-best 14.82 for yet another victory in Doha and then reeled off marks of 14.35 and 14.52 before winning at Jamaica’s National Championships with a less than stellar 14.27m.

She isn’t clear on when things finally came together but what is certain is that they did and at just the right time.

“I know that a lot of persons were ahead of me on the performance list for this season, so I had to bring my ‘A’ game in order to medal,” said Ricketts who qualified for the finals in Oregon with 14.45m but with the intention of jumping much farther once the final began on Monday night.

“The goal for the final was to produce a big jump in the first round to take the pressure off me and put the pressure on the field. Then do my best to keep improving as the rounds progressed.”

She did exactly that. 14.89m on her first jump, a mark only surpassed by Rojas, who would subsequently win her third world title in as many championships.

For Ricketts, it all came down to what happened in Tokyo last year. That was where the rebound started and ended nicely for the four-time national champion.

“Not winning a medal in Tokyo really motivated me to work harder, and to never underestimate any of my opponents.  The experience also helped me become fearless because I know how to navigate both winning and losing,” she said.

“Winning feels much better and yields the best outcomes so I always strive to win but I am not afraid to lose.”

At the conclusion of the world championships, Ricketts returns home for a few days before flying off to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England where she hopes of a golden conclusion to a season that did not begin with much promise.

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Last modified on Friday, 22 July 2022 14:01
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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