Smith: medal would be crown jewel of career
Tyrone Smith admits that he can only seal his legacy as one of the greats of Bermudian athletics by winning a medal at a major competition.
Although the long jumper has been a usual suspect at every major event during the past decade, the “crown jewel” he so desperately craves has so far eluded him.
Smith accepts his competitive years are ebbing away and is frustrated that his career highlight remains winning gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.
That could all change, however, should Smith produce the type of form he is capable of and he strongly believes he can pose a podium threat on the Gold Coast.
“As I come towards the last two to three seasons of my career, I know I’m missing the crown jewel,” said the 33-year-old, who jumps in the qualifiers on Monday night, Bermuda time.
“I’ve got a good body of work and had some accomplishments, with national records, but what’s missing is a major medal to put a nice crown jewel on this long career I’ve been fortunate to have.”
Smith, who holds the national record of 8.34 metres, knows he will have to replicate that kind of distance to stand a chance of winning a medal.
That he is facing only slightly less stiff competition as he did at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro makes his mission that much harder.
“I’d say 65 to 70 per cent of the best jumpers in the world are Commonwealth athletes,” said the three-times Olympian.
“Greg Rutherford [of Britain, the reigning champion] is not here, but we’ve got very capable South Africans, the world champion [Luvo Manyonga] and the guy who finished third [Rushwal Samaai].
“Then we’ve got the Australians ... Fabrice Lapierre has jumped over 8.40 metres more times than I can count, so it’s not going to be a cakewalk.
“It’s a matter of whether I can produce an 8.30 like I did last year in Houston. I usually have one or two 8.20s a season and if I can produce that, I put myself in a position to medal. At my best I can be in the conversation.”
Born in Bermuda but raised in north Chicago, where he moved when he was 5 years old, Smith believes he is as primed as he will ever be to medal at a major Games.
He came closest at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, finishing fourth with a leap of 8.07, and feels confident despite experiencing technical issues at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, last month.
“I’m not injured, it’s good weather, there are no excuses not to jump far,” Smith said. “I felt really good at worlds and just wasn’t able to get on the board. I’ve been working on what went wrong.
“I’m ready to put one of the big jumps I’ve had, like the PR I had last season, into a major competition. My speed feels good and my strength feels good; I’m right where I want to be.”
Although Smith is in the twilight of his career and already planning for life after athletics, he says he is keen for one more Olympic tilt.
“If I told you I didn’t think about [retiring] it would be a bold-faced lie,” he said.
“Every athlete wants to retire on their own terms and not be the guy people make fun of, like, ‘That guy should have retired a long time ago’.
“My immediate goal is to go through to Toyko 2020 and that would be a nice end to my professional track and field career.”
“It’s important for me to have a great time and represent Bermuda well. If those two things are happening, then the jumps will be there.”
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