By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Chantel Malone broke the 7.00m Long Jump barrier for the first time in her career and in the process, qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games on Saturday. Malone cut the sand at 7.08m, (23’2¾”) to win the Florida International “Pro Addition” event and improved on her 6.90m (22’7¾”) jump from last year, while becoming only the 2nd CAC woman over 7.00m.
After fouling her first jump, she also had leaps of 6.83m on her second attempt and 6.91m on her final try before passing, for the best series of her career.
“Once I hit that 6.83 mark, that was the goal really to go in and get that (Olympic) qualifying mark out the way,” she noted of the 6.82m target, then fouled her third jump as her teammate hit the 7.00m mark. “Once I saw her hit 7, I knew there was no way I was walking out of that competition without hitting seven. When Coach said 7.08, I kinda wanted to shed a tear and I’m not one to show emotion but I was like ‘finally.’ But I knew, 7 meters is no longer a barrier in my mind, that’s the major difference in comparison to how I felt two years ago vs how I feel now.”
Malone said that she’s in a confident place and how she’s executing and she’s excited to see how the rest of the season goes.
“I went into the competition with a mindset of just executing and not just jumping far,” Malone, now ranked No 2 in the World told Island Sun Sports. “It was from a place of executing and that’s what I did.”
Along with her Coach Dwight Phillips, a 2004 Athens Olympic Games champ and four times IAAF World Championships Long Jumper, Malone said they have been working on her being technically sound. She’s faster, stronger and definitely more technically sounder than she has ever been. She explained that if she goes out and foul two jumps, she can go on the third jump, take her foot off the gas but be technically efficient to hit the qualifying mark on that one jump. Therefore, her focus has been on executing rather than gutting it out.
“I know what I’ve been doing in practice and I’m really in a good place. I’m healthy and I wasn’t worrying about hitting the mark and I think that’s the difference how I would be in the past vs now,” she pointed out. “I’m in a place knowing what I can do, so it became easier to do that rather than pressing or wondering if I could do it.”
Malone said Phillips—who coached to the Pan Am Games gold—has been able to communicate what she sees in her head in a way that makes her understand. She said while she has had talented knowledgeable coaches, she wasn’t able to transfer it to the track. Phillips, she said, is able to take things apart and put them back piece by piece and that way, she’s able to grasp things in a way that she couldn’t grasp them before.
“Maybe because he was an athlete and understands some of my blockages, that has been the difference,” she noted. “He has experience in the field and we have good dynamics, so it’s just been easy for me to put it out there.”
Malone joins Shot Putter Eldred Henry and 400m Hurdler Kyron McMaster as the territory’s three Olympic Games qualifiers so far. All three are ranked in the Top 100 athletes in their respective event on the World Athletics All Time List. McMaster’s 47.54 seconds in the 400m Hurdles is No 19, Malone’s 7.08m (23’2¾”) Long Jump is in a 3-way tie for No 40 and Henry’s 21.47m (70’5¼”) Shot Put, is in a 5-way tie for No 83.
Malone said qualifying for Tokyo takes a load off her shoulder, now she can focus on fine tuning, staying healthy and building on the things she has been doing.
Deya Erickson was 2nd in the 87th Prairie View Relays 100m Hurdles in 13.83 seconds, while Ashley Kelly was 3rd in the 100m in 11.85 seconds (+1.3) and 3rd in the 200m in 24.19 (+2.5).
After winning the Douglas County Long Jump with a leap of 18’5½”, Adaejah Hodge, 15, won the 400m in a personal best of 55.11 seconds—a mark that’s 10th on the BVI All Time List. She also won the 200m in 23.99 seconds, becoming the Territory’s 10th athlete to break the 24.00 barrier.
Northwestern State Sophomore Akira Phillip, settled for 11th in the 93rd Clyde Littlefied Texas Relays Javelin throw with a heave of 38.92m (127’8”). At the same meet, UTEP Freshman Josh Hill, climbed to No. 7 on the BVI All Time 400m list with his personal best of 47.55 seconds.
Clemson Sr. Lakeisha “Mimi” Warner, was 6th in the Florida State University Relays 400m Hurdles in 1:02.82. New Mexico Jr. College Sophomore Djimon Gumbs earned his 2nd Shot Put victory, after tossing the ball, 15.71m (51’6”)., in the New Mexico Spring Open.