** Please check Keni Burke – “Rising to the Top” for those who need a little help with the song reference. **
After being in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico since last Saturday morning, I was pretty eager to get the show on the road and Thursday night’s competition couldn’t come soon enough. I had gotten to watch Ayanna come back from injury and secure a bronze medal on Tuesday evening so I was that much more excited to join the fray. To start things off they originally had our competition scheduled to be held on the runway on the far side of the track (where there were few fans present). Of course you know that wasn’t going to stick, especially considering that the homestretch was packed with adoring triple jump/track and field fans! So after a few minutes of peaceful protesting and some walkie-talkie action between the officials, they gave in and quickly set up the other pit and runways for us.
I opened up the competition with a 16.56m jump which wasn’t at all what I was looking for to get things started. It put me in 2nd place behind a 17.20m opener for Randy Lewis from Grenada and later on I slipped to 3rd after Leevan Sands from the Bahamas got a couple of legal jumps in. One thing they warned us about while we were petitioning to switch runways was that we would be repeatedly interrupted by medal ceremonies crossing the runway to get to the infield. Couple that with the fact that we had 13 competitors in the competition and an officiating crew that was a liiiitle bit on the slow side when it came to switching the order after jumps 3 and 5, and it felt as if I had ‘forever and a day’ between jumps. I tend to like competitions that move along quickly so that I can get into a rhythm and get right back on the runway to correct the mistakes I made in previous jumps. This was not one of those meets. After each jump I felt some of my adrenaline leave me and my legs got tighter and tighter while sitting around. Once the finals came around though, we went from 13 to 8 jumpers and people also began to pass jumps so things really began to move along.
After being behind the board on jump 4 which resulted in a FLAT hop (we’ll call that one a warmup jump) I was ready to go on jump 5. Needless to say, jump 5 was the only jump where I stutter-stepped in the approach and I’m pretty proud of that. Jump 5 also ended up being my best jump of the meet and a season best (17.01m…first time over 17m this season). The jump itself still wasn’t what I was looking for though. Not only did I slow down a whole lot before the board but my heel landed squarely on the long jump board going into my jump phase. As you can imagine, landing on a hollow surface between phases is bad news and it inevitably = buckling; no matter how quick you tend to get off the ground. My jump phase on this jump was no different but I got what I could out of it and hit the sand just past the 17 meter mark. You’ll get no complaints from me though considering I know that shouldn’t have stutter stepped and that I should have gotten over the long jump board and yet I still made it out to 17 meters. Additionally, I’m pretty happy with the season best.
Before adding anything else I should probably note that by my 4th jump, I had slipped into 4th place. Y’all know that I had come to this meet to win; so not making the podium at all most certainly wasn’t going to happen! In any case, I think my 5th jump woke some people up because it catapulted me into 2nd and Leevan immediately followed up with a 17.01m jump of his own to take back 2nd (based on him having a better ‘second best jump’). I’ll admit I got a bit excited on my last jump considering that I knew exactly what to do differently from my 5th jump to nab the gold. I came down the run way a lot faster and as a result my last few strides were a little shorter than they had been on the previous attempt. I ended up behind the board and out of position which got me the same sort of jump as number 4. To cap off the competition the jumpers in the top two spots ahead of me swapped places in round six and I ended with the bronze. Though it’s two spots below where I saw myself going into the meet, I’m not being too hard on myself this time around.
To have my coach, one of my training partners (and better half) as well as my Haitian teammates there at the track supporting helped immensely! It’s pretty rare that my coach is able to make it to one of my meets so it was great to get feedback on the fly and it clearly helped to make the necessary adjustments after each jump. I know Ayanna felt the same way during her competition. It also didn’t hurt to see one of my teammates, Moise Joseph, earn a silver medal in the 800m while I was still in the heat of battle.
In spite of the fact that I didn’t get the W, this has to have been was of my most memorable track and field experiences given the ups and downs of the competition itself and the new shape that Team Haiti is taking (note the fly warmup suit in the picture above). Don’t get me wrong, as with all the other events I’ve been to in the past to represent Haiti, I’ve seen some things worth shedding tears over as far as the team is considered; but this post is more on the celebratory side so I’ll save that stuff. For now, I’m going to line up a few more meets to end the season and ensure that I “keep rising to the top,” both in the immediate future and for coming seasons of course. Mo and I also both agreed that things will keep on rising for Haitian track and field as well since this is the best we’ve done overall in some time (Dominique Degrammont finished 4th in the 110 hurdles, Pascal Delaunay was 5th in the women’s TJ and Alie Beauvais made the finals of the 400 hurdles); and I know we’re not finished growing.