Smith predicting some fireworks in Beijing
Tyrone Smith said he is jumping with more confidence than ever as he looks to continue his impressive season at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Smith is enjoying one of his best campaigns as a long jumper and hopes to build upon his consistent showing at last month's Pan Am Games in Toronto, where he leaped beyond eight metres four times, finishing fourth with a jump of 8.07 metres.
Up against one of the strongest fields he has faced, Smith is expecting “fireworks” at Beijing Olympic Park, where the Championships will be held, and has set himself a minimum target of reaching the final.
“I've just been trying to stay focused after Toronto and I've had some really good training over the past few weeks,” said the 30-year-old, who headed from his home city of Houston to Beijing yesterday.
“It's been a great season for me and it's probably the best position I've been in going into a major competition.
“I'm feeling good and it's just a matter of navigating the qualifying rounds, which is always a challenge regardless of who you are. There shouldn't be any reason why I'm not in the final.”
Having finished a disappointing thirteenth at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, where he failed to reach the final, Smith opted against competing at this month's NACAC Senior Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, so not to jeopardise his preparations.
Among the top-class jumpers in Beijing will be Jeff Henderson, of the United States, who won gold in Toronto with a world-leading 8.52, Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain, and Zarck Visser, of South Africa, who jumped 8.41 in Germany last month.
“Getting past the qualifiers can be difficult enough as there will about 33 guys there who have all jumped over 8.10 this year,” said Smith, who has climbed to eleventh in the world rankings — his highest-ever position.
“Everybody there is capable of pulling something out and making the final. It's possible that you could jump 8.40 and not get a medal.
“You have to take it one day at a time and not get too focused in the medal round. The key is hitting the automatically qualifying distance, probably 8.05 or 8.10, and then focusing on the next day.”
Smith, who has already qualified for the next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, will be joined in Beijing by Tre Houston, the Bermuda sprinter, who will compete in the 200 metres.
Houston, 25, missed out on the 200 semi-finals at the Pan Am Games, finishing fourth in his heat in a time of 21sec.
Unlike Smith, Houston travelled to San Jose for the NACAC Senior Championships, where he placed sixth in his semi-final heat in 21.72.
Houston, whose personal best stands at 20.42, has also already hit the qualifying mark for the Rio Games.
The World Championships, which are held biennially, will run from Sunday and August 30.