Jamaican shot-putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd was in scintillating form to win at the 2022 USATF Throws Festival in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.

The 2019 World Championship silver medallist produced a season’s best 19.53m to win, her farthest throw since her 19.55 personal best and national record done in 2019, to win gold at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

The throw was one of three in Thomas-Dodd’s series to eclipse 19m. Canada’s Sara Mitton was second with 19.47m while the USA’s Jessica Ramsey was third with 19.38m.

“It feels good to be honest. I was struggling a lot with my confidence because I was injured all of last season and I’m finally in a place where I can say I feel like the old Danniel,” she said in an interview after the event.

“I just want to bring this momentum into the World Championships,” she added.

Jamaica’s Ralford Mullings threw 63.75m for third in the Men’s discus behind the American pair of Sam Mattis (68.69m) and Andrew Evans (66.74m).

 

Now that he has finally been able to train consistently after two years of disruption caused by the global pandemic, Traves Smikle produced his best throw in three years to achieve the qualifying mark for this summer’s World Athletics Championships at the second JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series meet at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.

Smikle, the 2018 NACAC silver medallist, threw a season-best 66.60m for the victory, his best throw since he threw 67.57m in January 2019. It was the perfect birthday present for Smikle, who revealed afterwards that it was a welcome reprieve from a tough past couple of years.

“The last two years have been crazy with the pandemic and everything. It was very difficult to get into a training flow and now that things are better, not perfect but better, my coach and I got some consistent work in,” said Smikle, who won JMD$90,000 for the win.

“For the season I have been averaging 64/65m. We have been knocking at the door and we finally got it (the qualifying mark) today on my birthday and I am happy about that.”

Noticeably bigger than he has been in previous years, Smikle revealed that his increase in size is also part of his coach Julian Robinson’s plan for him to throw farther this year.

“One of the things my coach wanted me to do is put on a little more weight and we are doing some explosive work, trying to keep consistent with training and today we saw the fruits of our labour,” he said.

Smikle’s throw makes him Jamaica’s best thrower this year ahead of his training partner and friend, Fedrick Dacres, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion and 2019 World Championships silver medallist and, at least for now, gives him bragging rights in the Reckless Control training group.

Dacres, he said, is sure to use it as motivation to throw beyond the 65.98m he threw at the same venue just over a week ago, the next time he competes.

“Fedrick is a phenomenal athlete and we have been training hard, he has been working hard and we are on track. It is only a matter of time before he hits a big throw,” Smikle said of Dacres.

“Both of us have been averaging over 65m and we just want to work hard and respect each other. I am pretty sure he has seen this mark and it is going fire him up to get something big so the next time we compete, it’s going to be a good one.”

Edwin Allen High School was the fastest qualifier to the final of the High School Girls 4x100m at the 2022 Penn Relays which got underway on Thursday morning at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

The team of the Clayton twins, Brandy Hall and Shenequa Vassell scorched the track to run a time of 44.64 to win their heat. Hydel High (46.37) and IMG Academy (47.03) were second and third fastest to the final.

Holmwood Technical (47.12), Immaculate Conception (47.15), St. Catherine High (47.56) and St. Jago (47.37) will also be in Friday's final.

Holmwood Technical’s Cedricka Williams was dominant in winning the High School Girls discus with a throw of 54.00m. Camperdown’s Victoria Christie was second with 44.88m while Ella Lucas from Warwick High School was third with 42.53m.

Edwin Allen’s Serena Cole, who ran the first leg on Jamaica’s world record-breaking U-20 girls 4x100m team at the recently concluded Carifta Games, jumped 5.98m for second in the High School Girls long jump behind Avery Lewis of Friends’ Central (6.05). Hailey Rios of Somerset jumped 5.84m for third.

St. Jago’s Annishka McDonald was third in the High School Girls' high jump after clearing 1.69m. The event was won by Spring-Ford’s Nene Mokonchu (1.72m) while Conard’s Audrey Kirkutis was second with 1.69m.

The 2022 Penn Relays will run from April 28-30.

Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah will be among the Caribbean athletes on show at the 2022 USATF Golden Games at the Mt SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California on Saturday, April 16th.

Thompson-Herah, who lowered her 100m personal best to 10.54 last season, will compete in the Women’s 100m at the meet which is a part of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Series.

She will be joined in the race by her compatriot Briana Williams, Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle Lee-Ahye as well as the USA’s Olympic 200m bronze medallist Gabby Thomas. Aleia Hobbs, who has already run 11.06 this season, Twanisha Terry and Javianne Oliver are also down to compete.

Jamaica's Damion Thomas, Trinidad and Tobago's Ruebin Walters and Barbados' Shane Brathwaite will all be in the field in the 110m hurdles while Tynia Gaither of the Bahamas will be in the 200m.

Jamaica's Shiann Salmon and Andrenette Knight will be involved in the 400m hurdles. Their countryman Leonardo Ledgister will be in the men's equivalent.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Shadae Lawrence will be in action in the Women’s discus going up against the USA’s Olympic champion from Tokyo, Valarie Allman, who threw a personal best and American record 71.46m in San Diego on April 8.

Elsewhere, in the field, Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyra Gittens will do battle with the USA’s Vashti Cunningham in the high jump. Gittens season-best of 1.95m, a height equaling her lifetime best, currently puts her at number two in the world. Jamaica's Kimberly Williamson will also be in the field.

2019 World Championship silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd will take part in the discus alongside fellow Jamaican Lloydricia Cameron.

Mexico and Cuba both enjoyed additional success as athletics action came to a close at the Junior Pan Am Junior in Cali, Colombia on Saturday.

Mexico won medals in the first two events on the day when Guillermo Ornelas took bronze in the Men’s 110m Hurdles in 14.05 and Cesar Ponce claimed a silver medal in the 3000m Steeplechase in 8:56.65.

Their compatriot, Israel Alvarez, finished fourth in the 800m in 1:50.43 ahead of Dominica's Dennick Luke, who was fifth in 1:50.79.

The Cubans then got in on the act in the discus where Mario Torres finished second with a throw of 60.77m and Anyel Sampre taking the bronze medal with 57.03m.

Another Caribbean competitor, Jorge Nazario of Puerto Rico, was sixth in 50.72.

Mexico’s Luis Peralta was sixth in the Men’s Pole Vault with 4.80 metres.

Cuba then got their first gold medal of the day with Andy Salazar jumping 16.77 metres to win the triple jump.

Taeco O’Garro of Antigua finished sixth with 15.60 metres.

There were only two individual female events on the day.

Arian Hernandez of Mexico finished fourth in the 3000m Steeplechase in 10:57.62.

Yaritza Valera then won Cuba’s second gold medal on the day with a 67.47 metres effort to win the Women’s Hammer Throw.

Her teammate Liz Llorente was fourth with 64.34 metres.

In the final athletics event of the Games, the Dominican Republic secured a bronze medal in the Mixed 4x400m Relay in 3:28.28 while Mexico finished fourth in 3:29.52.

Cuba's Maikel Gonzalez won gold and Trinidad and Tobago's Kelsey Daniel, silver in the long jump at the Junior Pan Am Games in Cali, Colombia on Wednesday.

Gonzalez soared out to 7.97 metres to take top spot over the Trinidadian who leapt 7.90 metres for the runner-up spot.

Cuba won a second gold when Daily Gaspar ran 2:08.62 to win the Women’s 800m. In the field, Cuba's Juan Gomez took bronze in the shot put with 17.85 metres.

On Tuesday, Amya Clarke of St. Kitts and Nevis won silver in the Women’s 100m in 11.58 seconds.

Cuba secured a 1-2 finish in the Women’s discus with Silinda Zenea winning gold with a throw of 59.13 metres and Melany Morejan winning silver in 54.31m.

Meanwhile, Paola Sola of Puerto Rico struck gold in the women’s long jump with a distance of 6.33 metres.

Chantoba Bright of Guyana was fifth with 6.20 metres while Cuba’s Yanisley Cremadelly was eighth with 6.01 metres.

Tyriq Hosford of Trinidad & Tobago won a bronze medal in the Men’s javelin with a distance of 71.33 metres.

Carlos Brown Jr of The Bahamas was fifth in the Men’s 100m in 10.47 seconds.

Anson Moses of Trinidad & Tobago finished seventh in the Men’s Decathlon with 454 points.

In swimming action on Tuesday, Patrick Groters of Aruba won gold in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley in a time of 2:02.09, his second gold medal of the Games.

Graham Chatoor of Trinidad & Tobago was sixth in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle in 16:20.48 while his teammate Nikolai Blackman was 13th in 17:02.08.

The Bahamas finished fifth in the Men’s 4x100m relay medley in 2:49.92 while Trinidad and Tobago finished eighth in 4:02.66.

Jamaica’s Shadae Lawrence expressed satisfaction with her performance, despite not making it to the medal podium in the final of the Women’s Discus on Monday.

Lawrence made history by becoming the first-ever Jamaican woman to make an Olympic discus final.

She threw a distance of 62.27 metres in group A of the qualifying round to finish third and advance to the final. During the final, Lawrence fell just below her qualifying mark to throw 62.12 metres. That throw landed her a top-eight spot as she finished 7th.

The 25-year-old took to Instagram to share her gratitude and emotion. She posted a photo of her in the throwing circle along with a caption saying, “I want to thank God for bringing me this far. The journey was rough but he didn’t give me more than I could bear. The aim for this season was to make a top 8 finish at the Olympic Games. On the journey I found out I could do much more. A 7th place finish is what I’m blessed with and I am grateful”.

The second time Olympian went on to thank her coach, Julian Robison, whom she said believed in her from the start and never doubted her talent. She also thanked the University of South Florida where she attends school, for their support along her journey. Lawrence ended her caption by thanking her family for their support over the years and sent a special shout-out to her sister and mother.

The women’s discus was won by the USA’s Valarie Allman with a throw of 68.98. Silver went to Germany’s Kristen Pudenz and Cuba’s Yaime Perez gained bronze.

 

 

  

Shadae Lawrence’s second-place finish in the discus at the USATF Throws Fest in Arizona on Saturday was the second time she had lost in competition this season but it was perhaps her most significant achievement.

It took a world-leading throw of 70.22m from Dutchwoman Jorinde van Klinken to defeat the 25-year-old Jamaican, who achieved an important milestone of her own. Her fourth throw of 65.47m and fifth of 67.05m meant that she broke her own national record of 65.05 twice, and even more important, it was an indication that she was getting closer to her ultimate goal for this season.

“I was very happy to see those numbers. I really wanted to perform well at that meet. I was happy I could put it together and get the job done. I want to make my personal dream of being an Olympic finalist come true,” she said, explaining that the records, at this point in time, mean little by comparison.

“My only goal for the season is to make top 8 at the Olympics. I know this a great achievement (the national record) and I’m thankful but this wasn’t a goal of mine.”

The simple fact is that for Lawrence and her coach Julian Robinson the new milestone was not surprising but the immediate future is more about achieving the aforementioned goal and that for that to be accomplished, there is much work still left to be done. Robinson is under no illusions. He knows what needs to get done.

 “No, it wasn’t a surprise. Physically, I think she has the ability to produce those distances. However, she lacks the consistency and this is so for several reasons; her technique is not yet stable and she needs more exposure competing at the elite level or close to that,” he said.

Lawrence started the season with a win at the USF Bulls Invitational in Florida on March 20, throwing 63.75m, which surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard of 63.50m. She followed up with another win at the Florida State Relays on March 26 when she threw 62.88m.

After that, her performances dipped even though she kept winning. Throws of 57.76m and 57.86m resulted in victories at the USATF Sprint Summit on April 3 and at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational, on April 16.

Two weeks later, she was second at the North Florida Invitational where she threw 58.66m before her big throws in Tucson last weekend.

The performances represented were the low-hanging fruit that she has been able to reach since she began working with Robinson in late 2019 with bigger goals in mind.

“I train really hard. My biggest aim for this season, physically, was to get stronger,” she said. “The past few years throwing, I wasn’t strong and I was throwing decent. I knew if I could get my strength to a certain level, I could be more consistent. So every time I get into the gym I’m pushing myself.”

She believes that she can get even stronger and be a lot more consistent with throws well above 60m in the weeks she has left before the Olympic Games this summer.

“If I consistently push myself I will get stronger. I already have that mentality so once I’m healthy I will be in the best shape physically for the Games,” she explained.

“I think to be able to throw consistently you must attack your training that way. For me, I just need to train consistently. Be consistent with my gym, plyometric work, working on technical aspects of the throw. That’s how consistency comes about.”

With that goal met, she fancies the possibility of springing a surprise in Tokyo; just like she did on Saturday, produce a throw that she never has managed to deliver before but one that could produce a record that will be more meaningful.

 “If I execute the way I’m preparing to physically and mentally then anything can happen,” she said.

“The Olympic Games isn’t a walkover, no major championship is. My aim is to fearlessly execute all my throws. Before the beginning of the season, my aim was the Olympics. I told myself it doesn’t matter how I compete throughout the season; I need to get it done starting July 31st.”

July 31 is the day of the qualifying round of the women’s discus.

 

Shadae Lawrence, Jamaica women’s national record holder in the discus, shattered the record twice on her way to a second-place finish at the USATF Throws Festival at the University of Arizona on Saturday evening.

Shadae Lawrence is unbeaten in the discus competition in 2021 and has already achieved the Olympic qualifying standard but according to her coach, Julian Robinson, there is still a lot to be accomplished if she is to be competitive at the Olympic Games this summer.

Caribbean athletes Shadae Lawrence and Shane Brathwaite scored victories in the discus and sprint hurdles, respectively at Saturday’s USATF Sprint Summit in Prairie View, Texas, where several of their regional compatriots also had podium finishes.

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