Chantel Malone: ‘It’s Just A Do Or Die Year’

Chantel Malone running on the A. O. Shirley Grounds during a photo shoot as a Digicel Brand Ambassador

Chantel Malone running on the A. O. Shirley Grounds during a photo shoot as a Digicel Brand Ambassador

By Dean Greenaway

Long Jumper Chantel Malone will start her 2017 season in Berlin, Germany on Feb 10, followed by competitions in Glasgow and Birmingham, after last season that ended in disappointment.

Malone entered 2016 with high hopes of competing in the Rio Olympic Games, after establishing a personal best of 6.69m (21’11½) in her pet event and qualifying for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow, in the process, to end her 2015 season.

Only the top 32 Long Jumpers qualified for Rio, and Malone missed the cut as she was pushed down to No 38.

Malone described 2016 as ‘very shaky for me’ and added it was ‘definitely a turning point in my mentality.

“Not making the Olympic team was a major blow for me, a disappointment and it left me in a state of confusion almost, because I felt ready,” she said, speaking about last season with this reporter for the first time. “I was in the best shape of my life and nobody knew I was struggling with little injuries here and there. But, at the end of the day, I felt that I should have been able to go out there and make the Olympic team. When that didn’t happen, I definitely was defeated, but my mindset going into 2017 is just to rise again.”

Malone said what she has learnt from last season is to be more patient with the process and not so focused on the outcome. She said that she found when she was caught up in making the 22 foot Rio qualifying standard, it took away from her natural flow. This resulted being inconsistent in her jumping.

“I felt like it was a combination of rushing the jump and that was the confusing part for me because I felt ready and it was like why is my performances fluctuating that much, but, one thing I can contribute to my performances is that my mind was not right,” she explained. “I was pressing to do something that I could naturally do like with my eyes closed. With me overthinking, everything was a big problem.”

The Digicel Brand Ambassador who was home last on a short break last week added: “I’ve been really trying to get my mind right where I’m not dwelling on the past, because it can be very haunting just to keep recalling your past mistakes. I’m trusting the process. I’ve moved to Florida, a new environment out of my comfort zone and it’s just a do or die year.”

A bright sport for the multitalented athlete was when she teamed with Ashley Kelly, Tahesia Harrigan-Scott and Karene King in the 4x100m Relay and produced the fourth fastest time of any any English speaking Caribbean team, when they ran a national record of 43.45 seconds behind Puerto Rico’s new national mark of 43.43 at the OECS Championships on home soil. That mark catapulted the BVI into the Rio Olympics relay conversation. They ended the year ranked among the top 25 teams globally.

“It was just awesome,” Malone said. “We hadn’t practiced together like that, so, to come out and be a team and execute like that, that was mind blowing to me. In my mind, if we work on this, we could be somewhere up there in the world. This year, we’re going to practice more because we’re all in Florida and Karene is at home, so we can do this thing.”

Malone who saw her 400m record being broken by teammate Ashley Kelly and still holds the BVI Long Jump, Triple Jump and a share of the High National Records, said during this indoor season she’ll be focused on jumping, because running indoors is not necessarily her focus or important to her.

“Outdoors, I’ll get back into running,” she said. “But the 400m training, I’m like what? I don’t remember doing all this, this is hard work. But, definitely some sprints, you’ll see me.”