By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Since Long Jumping 6.69m to claim a silver medal at the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships in Costa Rica in 2015, Chantel Malone has been waiting on ‘the big jump’, even though she has gone on to place 7thoverall in the 2017, IAAF World Championships.
Malone, who has been to every IAAF World Championships since 2011, had reached a point where frustration had set in, she felt lost and even harbored thoughts about quitting.
All that was forgotten on Friday afternoon at the Torrin Lawrence Memorial in Athens, Georgia, when the national record holder cut the sand a 6.90m (22’7¾”) moving from No 13 with 6.57m to the best jump in the world so far in 2019 and equaled the 117 mark All Time in the event in the IAAF list. The jump not only rejuvenated Malone, but it was the best series of her career with marks of 6.61, 6.68, 6.75 before the 6.90.
“The crazy part is, everything isn’t together so that’s a good sign for better things to come,” Malone told Island Sun Sports. “My coach and I had been working on getting my speed up, getting more technically sound after I take off. I would end up rushing the landing, little things that caused me problems in the past, so that was my focus going into this meet.”
When asked what it means to get that big jump four years after her personal best, Malone said she cried because she had been going through a tough period.
“I felt lost,” she said. “I was doing the work and everything I needed to do and it just wasn’t clicking. When that happens, sometimes it’s very hard to stay positive or motivated because you’re wondering what’s happening and where is Chantel. For me to come out and get a personal best not once, but twice and have that series that I had, it was everything I visualized.”
Malone further added: “This is just the beginning and I’m really happy for the breakthrough because I needed that reassurance, so my main goal has shifted. I always knew it was there, but, I never hit it and was always something that pulled me down on the verge of a break through. Now that it’s out there, it has reignited the fire and the belief in myself so I’m really excited to continue working.”
Malone, who has been working with Olympic Games champion and four times World Champion Dwight Phillips, said she had a horrible Florida Relays at the end of March, where she finished behind Kala Penn. At that point, she felt like quitting as nothing seemed to be going right but Phillips told her not to worry about that.
“I listened to him, did everything in practice,” she said. “Honestly, his experience as an athlete resonates with me because he understands my frustrations or if I’m trying to explain something, it might not be the correct words used, but he understands it. That plays a major role in it and just having a level of trust, which I think is important in any coach-athlete relationship, so I think that has been a major key for me.”