By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Long Jumper Chantel Malone, capped the territory’s best showing ever at the IAAF World Championships by BVI athletes since the territory began competing in the inaugural event in 1983 in Helsinki, Finland, with a seventh place finish in her pet event.
Ashley Kelly and Kyron McMaster advanced to the semifinals of their respective events, though McMaster was later disqualified.
For Malone who competed in the finals on Friday after advancing on Wednesday, it was a season that on reflection of what she had been able to achieve, led to tears after her performance. Her year began by equaling her outdoor best of 6.69m (21 feet 11½ inches) during the indoor season. In late April, she fractured her foot and she spent May and June running in a pool, instead of putting the time into her pet event. She then she faced uncertainty if she would even be in London, for the 16th edition of the World Championships.
Within the whole process, she had joined a new program in Bradenton, Florida at the IMG Academy. When she finished the competition in London, Malone, 25, cried on reflection, after placing seventh in the Long Jump finals with a leap of 6.57m (21 feet 6¾” inches) on her third attempt, after being temporarily in sixth place.
“This year was definitely a trying year for me and a test of how badly I wanted it,” Malone said as she reflected on her 2017 season and drew inspiration when Kelly and McMaster advanced to the semifinals in their events, making the first time all three athletes had advanced and joined Tahesia Harrigan-Scott who did it in 2009. “From being in a new program and starting the season off well, then fracturing my foot. I was not able to train on the track between May and June. Got on a flight from my Doctors office to the OECS Championships in Grenada, a meet that ultimately booked my ticket to Worlds, making it to the finals and coming seventh overall. God, thank you for being my comforter and seeing me through.”
Malone said she cried tears from the devastation and tears because of God’s love. “I’m truly blessed for this accomplishment,” she said. “Coming to the World Championships and finishing seventh in the world, that’s crazy. I beat out 25 people to get to this spot and I’m just grateful. Grateful for my supporters, family members, my coaching staff—anyone that was in my corner. I couldn’t do any of this without them.”
The Long Jump specialist who also runs the 400m and contributes a leg on the BVI Women’s 4x100m relay, said becoming the BVI’s first finalist, is a major accomplishment. She said she wanted more but has to be thankful and grateful. The Long Jump specialist promised that there’s more to come.
“I am so determined to be one of the top contenders in the world,” she said. “At the beginning of the season I wrote in my book that I wanted to make it to the World Championships final, and I want the world to know my name or know that I’m there. I didn’t just want to go just for going sake. I wanted to go. I wanted to compete and I wanted to be a force to be recon with and I think I did that. A lot of people weren’t really noticing me. They didn’t think I was going to be a factor, but, I showed up.”
Kelly was a 400m semifinal automatic qualifier, after running 52.70 seconds. She did not advance to the final after running 54.50.
“It was bitter sweet. I went in the race knowing I was prepared for a great fast time, but I got out there and thought that I had to put myself out there to be in the race and give myself a chance,” Kelly said. “I did step out my race plan, but I went out to compete as I was out in lane nine, so I had to go. It’s a learning experience and I definitely came out of this World Champs hungry for the future.”
Kelly, who became just the second BVI athlete to reach the semis of an IAAF World Sr. Championships event, joining Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, said becoming a semifinalist has shown her that she’s maturing and growing in the discipline.
“I know that I put myself in a position that numerous athletes wanted to be in,” she said. “I didn’t come to a major championship just to say I made it. I came and I competed.”
McMaster, who went into the championships with the fastest time in the world this season, was disqualified for running on the line after finishing second in his heat in 49.75 seconds.
“We prepared and prepared both physically and mentally, we went through all the could go wrong and we worked to correct the wrongs,” McMaster’s coach Dag Samuels explained. “Running on the line is a new one. We were preparing to go through the rounds. His action wasn’t blatant. We will overcome and press on.”
Samuels added: “I know that the BVI and other fans, all well-wishers are a bit disappointed, but give him time to reflect. I guarantee, he will bounce back and do so harder than before.”
McMaster said he thought he ran a great race.
“That’s the first time I was able to run and control a rhythm throughout the whole race,” he said, noting that it wasn’t a race in which he had to run hard. “It was just to get to the next round and that was fairly easy for me because it was the top four from the heat and the next four fastest times advancing. I knew I was advancing regardless so I wasn’t running to run anything spectacular, just to open up the legs and let them know we are in competition.”
McMaster added: “There are a lot of rumors going around on how I got disqualified. I got disqualified because I stepped on the white line after hurdle seven in my lane. I didn’t step on the white line in the other lane. I didn’t step in the other lane. I didn’t run in the other lane. I didn’t false start. My lead leg did not go around any hurdle. My trail leg did not go around any hurdle. I just simply stepped on a white line, like four steps after the hurdle. It was clearly after the hurdle that I stepped on the white line.”
The 2016 IAAF World Jr. Championships 400m bronze medalist who was debuting at the senior level, said it hit him pretty hard and he was disappointed because he went to London and was confident in what he was doing and was very focused.
“I’ve grieved for it and right now, I accept what happened and I’ll forget what happened, he said. “People say that’s God’s plan, but, it isn’t everything God does. This isn’t something that could have been fixed. It’s a mishap. Probably I was a bit too anxious or probably just my running style. I took it pretty hard but now I’m back in training.”