Smith hopes to write thrilling final chapter
Tyrone Smith has vowed to make every jump count as he enters the final two years of his athletics career.
Smith hopes to complete the modern Olympiad cycle, finishing his career at the Tokyo Games in 2020, which would be his fourth Olympics after Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016.
The 33-year-old long jumper made his long-awaited return to a championships podium after winning the silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, last Wednesday.
He will be hoping to build on that performance when he competes at the at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships, at the Varsity Stadium, Toronto, from Friday until Sunday.
“I recognise now that every competition is precious and you can’t take anything for granted, especially as you logically approach the end of your career,” Smith said.
“I’m going towards Tokyo but after that it will be a wrap for me. I just want to go out with as many accolades and big jumps as I can. I’m applying for business school now so I anticipate being in school for the final of my [athletics] career. I plan to finish school and my career at the same time and move on to the next step.”
Although Smith was unable to jump anywhere near his personal best of 8.34 metres at the CAC Games, he believes there were tangible signs of improvement after a difficult season.
He was occupying the gold-medal position with a best effort of 8.03m, but suffered heartbreak when Jamaica’s Ramone Bailey leapt 8.07m in the last jump of the event.
“I’m still very disappointed about my distance,” said Smith, who saved his best jump until his sixth and final attempt.
“If I’d have jumped 8.30 and got second place I’d be a lot happier.
“I was very happy to come away with some hardware, though, and be on that podium. It’s been a long time since I stood on anyone’s podium, at least at a championships.
“I found a bit of form in that last jump and was almost able to snatch victory away from the whole field. I know everyone at that point had counted me out based on the way I was jumping.”
The 33-year-old said he always knew his best jump was unlikely to be enough to discourage Bailey from grabbing gold.
“I reason I looked so upset after my jump is because I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to stay in the lead,” said Smith, who won gold at the CAC Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.
“If someone in the last round pops a jump that is within your ability you will notice that people just respond to that.
“They will be like, ‘I can jump that’. [Bailey] didn’t go out and jump 8.50, he went out and jumped 8.07.
“I needed to put out an 8.20 to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not going to jump more that’. I can jump 8.20 whereas he can’t.”
The Houston-based athlete believes it will be just as difficult to win a medal at NACAC as it was at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April, where he failed to reach the final.
“You’re going to have a ton of really good guys and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Also representing Bermuda at the championships will be middle-distance runner Dage Minors, shot putter Tiara DeRosa and sprinter Taahira Butterfield.