Lamara Distin: Defying gravity, breaking records, and chasing Olympic glory

By February 28, 2024

In a moment that will resonate through the corridors of track and field history, Lamara Distin, the high-flying Jamaican representing Texas A&M, soared to unprecedented heights at the SEC Indoor Championships.

Last weekend, the 23-year-old SEC champion shattered the women's NCAA indoor high jump record, scaling a breathtaking 2.00 metres, not only claiming her third-straight SEC title but etching her name as the first NCAA athlete to conquer this elusive mark. The feat also holds special significance as Distin becomes the trailblazing woman from the English-speaking Caribbean to achieve such an extraordinary height and by that virtue establishing a Jamaica national indoor record.

It was a moment of relief and reward for the talented Jamaican. "Achieving the long-awaited goal was an incredible and rewarding feeling. I have been going after this mark for years so for it to finally happen, it’s such a great feeling. I’m super-elated that my hard work is paying off."

Distin's journey at the Randal Tyson Track Centre was nothing short of a masterclass in precision and execution. She cleared her initial six heights on the first attempt, securing her SEC indoor high jump title with a jump over 1.97m. With history beckoning, she boldly raised the bar once more. On her third and final attempt, she defied gravity, clearing the record-breaking 2.00m, etching her legacy into the NCAA and Jamaica history books.

In doing so, Distin awarded the 2024 SEC Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

 

The former Hydel High School star shared the depth of emotion and accomplishment tied to this historic moment. "Being among an elite class of high jumpers and the first Caribbean woman to achieve this height fills me with a deep sense of gratitude and motivation to continue pushing my limits," she shared, reflecting on the significance of this achievement.

The journey to this moment, however, was not without its challenges. The 2022 Commonwealth Games champion opened up about the transformative year of 2023, marked by a change of coach from Sean Brady to Mario Sategna.

During the year, Distin was well below her best even though she won the Indoor title with a clearance of 1.91m. However, after only clearing 1.87m, she relinquished the national outdoor title to Ball State’s Charity Griffith, who soared over a height of 1.93m to claim the crown.

“The change of coach was a bit of a challenge for me last year as I know that I would be doing completely different workouts that I was used to with my old coach since I was a freshman,” she explained.

“I’m used to the (new) program now so I’m super grateful everything is falling into place at the right time. There are little things that still need to be fixed but we’ll get there. Change can be daunting, but it can also be a catalyst for growth and improvement.”

For Distin, reaching the 2.00m mark was not just a physical breakthrough; it also marked a profound mental transformation.

“Reaching that two-metre mark is not only a physical breakthrough but also a significant mental breakthrough for me. It’s like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. This has opened up new possibilities and has shown me that I am capable of achieving greater heights,” she stated.

“It has given me the confidence to set bigger goals and strive for even more success in the sport. I will continue to have faith in God and remember that his timing is always better than me.”

With the summer approaching at the Paris Olympics looming ever closer, Distin and her coach are meticulously planning her competitions, ensuring she peaks at the right time for the Olympic challenge ahead.

“An Olympic year means I have to also be smart as it relates to competitions. Competing at the collegiate level is totally different than the professional level as our season starts earlier. Moving into this season, my coach and I are taking the necessary measures in order for me to be fresh enough for the Olympics which is being strategic with competition planning. We have a plan and we’re sticking to that plan.”

As she sets her sights on consistently clearing higher heights, Distin shared the key factors for sustained success. "Maintaining a positive mindset, consistency in practice, taking care of my overall well-being, and seeking support when needed" are the cornerstones of her approach.

Grounded in her faith and armed with a renewed sense of self-belief, Distin is not merely defying gravity; she's rewriting the script of what's possible in high jumping and aiming for nothing less than Olympic glory.

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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