Texas A&M’s Lamara Distin, fresh from her silver medal performance in the high jump at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships, is targeting the Olympic standard of 1.96m when she competes at the Jamaica National Championships beginning June 26.

Six days after her 23rd birthday, Tyra Gittens gifted herself the heptathlon title on what was for her a bittersweet final day of the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

In what she described as the hardest meet of her life, the Texas A&M junior topped the heptathlon high jump (1.84m), long jump (6.64) and 200m (23.79) on the way to her second-best score of 6285 points that was more than enough for victory but 135 points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420.

It was, however, 218 more of the University of Miami’s Michelle Atherley. The Miami senior, who was the fastest in the 100m hurdles (13.15), scored 6067 points for the silver medal. University of Texas freshman Kristine Blazevica scored 5984 points for the bronze medal.

Putting it simply, after three days of gruelling competition, Gittens just ran out of gas. She literally fell across the finish line to complete the heptathlon 800m in which she was 19th overall, scoring 707 points for her time of 2:28.88.

Her legs were sapped because after the long jump on Thursday in which she won a silver medal, Gittens then had four events in the heptathlon on Friday before completing the other three on Saturday even while contending for individual honours in the high jump.

She just managed to complete the high jump 10 minutes before competing in the heptathlon 800m, her final event of the meet.

The athlete, who has a season-best of 1.95m was only able to clear 1.87m, good enough for third place behind A&M teammate, Jamaica’s Lamara Distin, who cleared a personal best 1.90m to win the silver medal. The gold medal went to South Carolina freshman, Rachel Glenn, who cleared a personal-best 1.93m.

Gittens just missed out on long-jump gold on Thursday when she soared out to 6.68m, two centimetres shy of the winning mark of 6.70m by Texas sophomore Tara Davis.

 Jasmine Moore of Georgia jumped 6.65m for the bronze medal.

 

 

Strange as it may sound, Tyra Gittens is both happy and disappointed with her record-breaking performance in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships at Bryan College Station in Texas last weekend.

The 22-year-old Trinidadian who attends Texas A&M University scored a personal best 6418 points to win the two-day event. Her score which was just two points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420 points is also a championship-leading effort as well as a meet and facility record. 

“I am proud of where I am. I am proud of my accomplishments. I hope the world sees that I have so much potential and I have so much more room to grow. This is just the beginning,” she said.

Along the way, Gittens achieved several personal milestones, including a massive personal lifetime best in the long jump of 6.96, which qualifies her for the Olympics this summer and a personal best and a national record 1.95m for the high jump and a centimetre shy of the Olympic standard.

It was also the first time in history that a woman had jumped 1.95m in the high jump and beyond 6.95m in the long jump in the same heptathlon. Gittens now holds national records for the high jump outdoors and indoors, the long jump outdoors and indoors, the pentathlon and the heptathlon.

However, she wasn’t satisfied and revealed her true ambitions, believing she is capable of so much more.

“I don’t like to talk about my goals publicly because then people take it as ‘Oh, she’s trying to talk smack’ but I want people to hold me accountable when I say this. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete and that means breaking Jackie Joyner’s record and that’s what I’m going for.

 “This is my first time saying that publicly but I have never been at a point in my life when I’ve felt so confident saying that, and after this weekend, even though my heptathlon wasn’t what I wanted, my mentality and how I pushed through one of the hardest weekends but one of the best weekends of my life, I am ready and I know, I really think I can get this world record.”

 It is that lofty goal and it is the accompanying mentality that has her experiencing mixed feelings about her record-breaking weekend. Joyner-Kersee’s heptathlon record, which has stood since 1988, is 7291 points and it explains why Gittens wasn’t so happy with her performance last weekend because she understands that if she is to break that record, she has to be better at all her disciplines, not just two or three.

 “The long jump and the high jump were the highlights of my meet. I rarely surprise myself but I definitely surprised myself in the long jump,” she the Texas A&M senior said.

 “The high jump wasn’t necessarily a surprise. I knew this is where I wanted to be around this time. In the long jump, I didn’t expect to reach 6.90 so soon. I know I could do it, I knew I could be up there but I was thinking later on in my career, like years later.”

However, as good as she was in the long and high jumps, Gitten concedes that her performance in several other disciplines did not meet her expectations and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

 “The shot put definitely hurt me, just because of how inconsistent it was. It was embarrassing for me to come off such a high in the high jump, not to be able to gather myself correctly for the shot put. I thought I did but I still had a lot of adrenalin and excitement from the high jump and it never allowed me to focus on the shot put and it just didn’t click,” she said of her 658-point 11.96m throw that was well short of her 13.58m throw that earned her 807 points in a heptathlon on May 8.

 She was equally devastated by how poor she was in the 800m that she completed in 2:31.97 and which she said came as a shock.

 “The 800 was a surprise. I did not expect to run that slow. I started the race and normally I have someone yelling my 100m splits but this time there were two events going on so my coach wasn’t able to so he put some people to say the times. I didn’t hear them and so I was kind of running blindly and it wasn’t until the last 150 when I saw the finish-line time board and I saw that I was way behind my pace,” she said.

“I honestly started tearing up running down the straightaway because I knew I didn’t set myself up in the other events like the shot put and the hurdles, even though my long jump and high jump were great, the Hep was not very consistent for me.” 

Such is the mentality of the effervescent Trinidadian that she has chosen to focus on the silver lining rather than dwell on the dark clouds.

 “That being said, everything happens for a reason. I was very impressed with myself that my hep was a pretty bad one. The things that saved me, the high jump, my 200 and long jump because everything else was not where I wanted to be at all,” she confessed, “the hurdles, shot put, javelin even though it was PB in the Hep for me, I see myself a little farther along than 40 metres. The 800 definitely broke my heart.”

She was devastated to come so close to the Olympic standard. 

“Being only two points away from the standard is definitely tough to swallow because it was just two points and I knew what I needed to do but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It happened. I came out with an Olympic standard and literally kissing the other standards,” she said. 

“I am on pace. I knew my open events would come before my Hep because it is a lot harder to put together than get one jump. I am not worried. I am not stressing. I am actually above my pace for what I want to do and the next Hep is going to be bigger and better because I am going to come in ready to be more consistent and ready to stay focused. 

“I want to shine. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete, meaning I want to be consistently good, amazing in some (events) and consistently good in others. I would love to be a Jackie Joyner and be amazing at all seven but that’s not my reality, so you have to take advantage of what you’re really good at and then you have to work and stay focused on what you’re not so gifted in.”

 Gittens also finished second in the individual high jump, clearing 1.89m. She was also fourth in the long jump with a 6.56m leap. For her efforts, she was named United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week.

 

Tyra Gittens believes things are falling into place for another great performance in the heptathlon at this weekend’s SEC Championships. Her confidence would have been further buoyed by encouraging performances at the Aggie Invitational at Bryan-College Station in Texas on Saturday.

Texas A&M's Tyra Gittens was super excited about her new personal best in the heptathlon this weekend but acknowledged that there is still room for a lot of improvement. This is especially true if he wants to achieve her goal of competing in the multi-event discipline at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The 22-year-old Trinidadian, the 2021 NCAA pentathlon champion competing in her first heptathlon is more than two years scored an NCAA-leading 6274 points after completing the seven events at the Texas A&M Invitational held at Bryan-College Station in Texas on Friday and Saturday.

She won all four disciplines in windy conditions on Friday. She opened up with a time of 13.14 in the 100m hurdles for 1103 points, cleared 1.82m in the high jump, scoring 1003 points and won the shot put with a throw of 12.85m that earned her 717 points. In the final event of the day, she won the 200m sprint in 23.33, scoring 1046 points.

She returned on Saturday morning winning the long jump with a leap of 6.67m that earned her 1062 points. She only managed 631 points for the javelin and then rounded out the competition with a 2:28.52 run in the 800m for 712 points.

“Mood for a huge personal best, new school record, and an NCAA leading 6274 points in my first heptathlon in forever! Still so much to work on and I can’t wait to recover and get back into training” she posted on Instagram afterwards, very much aware of the work that she needs to get done if she is to book a ticket to Tokyo.

The 6247 points she scored is still 173 shy of the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420 points.

 

Track and Field News on Sunday named Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens Collegiate Athlete of the Year.

She is also on the Bowerman Watch List. The Bowerman is an annual track and field award that is the highest accolade given to the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

She believes the accolades are the fruits of hard work.

“Winning Athlete of the Year and staying on the Bowerman Watch List has been rewarding. It’s been a product of hard work and it's exciting, it’s motivating. It makes me want to continue to work hard. I am very honoured, I’m very grateful and I can’t wait to see what I can produce for the rest of the season,” she said.

The Trinidadian multi-event athlete recorded one of the best performances in collegiate history two weeks ago when she won the NCAA championship in the pentathlon and high jump and was third in the long jump to score 26 points.

The 26-point performance is the third-most all-time at an NCAA Championship meet where she also became the first woman to win national championships in the pentathlon and high jump in the same meet.

Gittens also set a collegiate record in the pentathlon with a winning score of 4,746 setting school records in the pentathlon, high jump (1.93m/6-4) and long jump (6.68m/21-11).

She also scored 23 points at the SEC Championships winning the high jump and long jump titles, while finishing sixth in the pentathlon.

She received the Cliff Harper Award for being the top point scorer.

She said self-belief enabled her turnaround from finishing sixth at the SEC Championships to breaking the collegiate pentathlon record two weeks later.

“I was very proud of myself! I trusted myself, I took a chance, and I had confidence in myself,” she said.

“I was not surprised though. Knowing how my training and my season has been going I knew I was going to have a good meet. I’m happy with how I executed everything I wanted to. I’m happy I was in control of my emotions and I’m happy I trusted myself enough to take a chance. It’s a great way to end the indoor season.”

The USTFCCCA also named Gittens National Field Athlete of the Year.

A day after setting a new collegiate record in the pentathlon at the NCAA Nationals, Tyra Gittens won a silver and a bronze medal and set a new school record along the way Friday.

Gittens, who on Thursday, broke Kendall Williams’ five-year-old pentathlon record, cleared 1.90m to win the high jump, becoming the first woman to sweep the pentathlon and the high jump.

The mark was shy of her personal best 1.93m set the day before during the pentathlon, but it was more than enough to hold off South Carolina freshman Rachel Glenn and Georgia’s Anna Hall, who cleared 1.87m second and third, respectively, the latter losing out on the silver medal on the countback.

Two hours later, Gittens, the SEC Female Field Athlete of the Year, went on the hunt for another gold in the long jump but despite uncorking a personal best 6.68m, a new school record, she had to settle for the bronze medal.

Why? Well, Tara Davis of the University of Texas shattered the record of 6.91m that had been held by Jamaica’s Elva Goulbourne since 2002 when she launched out to 6.93m. It was at the championships since Auburn’s Whitney Gipson equalled Golbourne’s mark in 2015.

In addition to being the championship record, the 6.93m was also a meet record and a facility record for Davis.

The silver medal went to Florida’s Claire Bryant who produced her personal best 6.70m.

The bronze medal means that Gittens has earned 26 points for Texas A&M at the nationals, the third-most all-time at an NCAA meet.

Two weeks ago, following her sixth-place finish at the SEC Indoor Championships, Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens said she was coming for the NCAA pentathlon record.

“These two weeks are going to be very important. I have a lot to work on,” she said. “I am going to use it to train and just get consistent and I am coming for the NCAA record.”

She wasn’t kidding.

On today’s first day of the NCAA National Indoor Championships in Arkansas, Gittens smashed the collegiate, facility and meet records held by Kendell Williams to crown herself NCAA national champion.

 On March 11, 2016, Williams of the University of Georgia set the collegiate and meet records of 4703 points. She also held the facility record of 4678 points set on March 14, 2015. These are no more as the 22-year-old Trinidadian scored a personal best 4746 points to take gold and exact revenge on Georgia’s Anna Hall, who won the SEC title a fortnight ago.

Hall secured the silver with 4401 points while Erin Marsh of Duke scored 4344 points for third.

Gittens, who had set a personal best 4612 points on January 29, started out well-running 8.27s for the 60m hurdles, the second-best time overall behind Marsh’s 8.13s.

The time, though, earned Gittens 1068 points. She would then earn another 1145 points in the long jump after clearing a personal best and school record 1.93m.

Her worst score of the day came in the shot put when a mark of 13.86m earned her 785 points.

By then she had established a lead of 277 points over Hall going into the final two events. At the SEC’s, trouble with the long jump run up saw her struggle, only managing a mark of 4.11m. She had no such trouble today leaping to 6.58m, just four centimetres shy of her personal best of 6.62m.

With only the 800m to come, Gittens needed 673 points to break the collegiate record. Her time of 2:28.22 was the 15th best time of the competitors but it earned 715 points that took her past the previous records.

Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens wants to wrap up qualification for the Olympic heptathlon as soon as the outdoor season begins, but if she doesn’t, she is confident that there are other ways for her to get to Tokyo.

It was all about the comeback for Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens, who rebounded from a disappointing first day at last week’s SEC Indoor Championships to win two gold medals and consequently, the coveted Cliff Harper Award for scoring the most points.

It was her second hold on the award and the first time an athlete has won it outright since 1997.

In two weeks, she will seek pentathlon redemption at the NCAA National Championships where she intends to break the collegiate record of 4703 points held by Georgia’s Kendall Williams.

“To win the Cliff Harper Award for the second time was definitely a good feeling. After my performance on Thursday, I was definitely down, I was definitely embarrassed, I was definitely upset but it’s all about the comeback. It’s all about how you come back from a terrible performance,” she told Sportsmax.TV.

“We are all human. We are all going to have those days as athletes but I was very proud of myself. This is my first time winning two gold medals at SECs and I was so happy to be able to put up 23 points. It’s reassuring knowing my team can rely on me and I know I can rely on myself to come back from devastating situations.”

Expected to do well in the pentathlon, after scoring a personal best 4612 points at the Texas Tech Invitational on January 29, things could not have gone worse for the 22-year-old Trinidadian in her efforts to defend the title she won in 2020.

The worst of those performances came in the long jump where she only managed to register a mark of 4.11m, well below her season-best of 6.62m.

She was forced to settle for sixth place, her score of 3818 points, a massive 703 shy of the 4501 scored by the newly crowned 2021 champion, Anna Hall of Georgia.

Despondent and embarrassed by her poor showing, Gittens turned to family for refuge.

“After talking to my family and talking to my sister, she played college volleyball, and she said anytime a negative thought would come in she would grab the thought and just throw it away and all of last night (Thursday) that is what I was doing,” she revealed.

“I wouldn’t even let it linger. As soon as I felt some negativity, I just grabbed it and threw it away and it worked because today (Friday) it was only positive and negative Tyra was out of sight.”

It worked.

Within an hour late Friday, Gittens won two gold medals for Texas A&M. First, cleared 1.89m – just shy of her personal best 1.91m - in the high jump to defeat LSU’s Abigail O’Donohogue and avenge her pentathlon loss to Hall, who were second and third, respectively, each having cleared 1.86m.

She then equalled her personal best (6.62m) to win the long jump ahead of LSU’s Aliyah Whisby (6.61m) and Georgia’s Titiana Marsh (6.39m).

“Today (Friday) was all about beating myself because yesterday I let the negative Tyra, the bad Tyra that we don’t like to see, overtake,” said an elated Gittens afterwards.

“I let her win yesterday and today (Friday) I relaxed, I had fun. I did everything that I wanted to do with executing and I cannot be happier. I am exhausted, but I am so proud of myself, and I am very happy.”

The comeback completed, redemption comes next and that will be the point of her focus over the next two weeks.

“These two weeks are going to be very important. I have a lot to work on,” she said. “I am going to use it to train and just get consistent and I am coming for the NCAA record.”

Tyra Gittens goes into tomorrow’s SEC Championships in a confident mood seeing how well she has performed indoors this season.

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