Best is yet to come, says Smith
Tyrone Smith is still not happy despite jumping more than 8.10 metres twice at the same competition for the first time in his career.
Smith posted a season-best leap of 8.18 — the third longest distance he has jumped — to finish fourth at the Birmingham Diamond League in England last weekend.
Rather than bask in his uplifting performance, Smith said satisfaction was not his prevailing emotion at the Alexander Stadium and feels he should be at least an “8.30 jumper”.
“I've actually felt pretty upset lately because I hadn't put a decent jump out there yet this season,” Smith said.
“I was talking to my coach afterwards and he said he was actually a little surprised that I wasn't more excited as it was the first time I'd gone over 8.10 twice in the same competition.
“I said to him that I could have jumped 8.23 [Smith's personal best is 8.22 in 2010] and not been super ecstatic because right now I feel like an 8.30 or 8.40 jumper.
“It was my third farthest jump ever and only a few centimetres shy of a personal best, but it still doesn't feel like what I'm supposed to be doing.”
Not only did Smith cross the eight-metres mark for the first time this season, he shattered it on three occasions, also recording leaps of 8.01 and 8.10.
His showing left him in no doubt he is on the right track, claiming to be in the “best shape of his life” ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
“The nature in which I [jumped 8.18] felt super easy,” Smith said.
“I didn't think it was that good of a jump, so when it came up on the board I was actually really surprised how far it was.
“I was pretty shocked and that bodes well. Normally when I hit a jump over 8.10 I know it's over 8.10, so for it to feel easy and effortless shows I'm in good shape.
“I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, stronger and faster than I was last year, and I'm happy that I'm in line with where I expected to be a few weeks ago.
“I'm more excited about what's in store because we still haven't got to the peak of training and I know there's a lot more to come.”
Among those Smith finished ahead of in Birmingham was Britain's Greg Rutherford, the reigning Olympic and world champion, who placed fifth with 8.17.
Winning the event was Marquise Goodwin of the United States, a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, who jumped 8.42.
Smith said it was a huge confidence boost to beat Rutherford who had “ruled the long jump world” since winning the gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
“It's been a long time since I've beaten Greg in a head-to-head,” Smith, who is based in Houston, said. “It's was only by a centimetre though!
“Greg has been on top of the long jump world for some time now. He's the defending Olympic champion, world champion, European champion and Commonwealth champion.
“It's about time for him to be dethroned. He hasn't jumped huge to win those titles, but he's jumped really consistently in the 8.30s and that's sometimes all it takes to get a medal.
“It's nice to beat him but we all know it doesn't matter what we do in June or July, it matters what we do in August.”
Although Smith, hit his stride at last weekend's Diamond League meet, he has been left perplexed by a rule change that cuts the field down to just four competitors for the final three rounds.
Previously eight athletes advanced the final three rounds, with Smith pointing out that it is now harder to reach the long jump final in the Diamond League than it is the Olympics.
“They claim its for TV but they hardly ever show us on TV,” Smith said.
“You have to jump massively well to be in that top four. And if you manage that you can be jumping every four minutes.
“If anyone decides to pass [a jump], you can literally be jumping back-to-back. I think they're definitely robbing us of some quality performances.”
Smith is now eyeing a personal best before he heads to Rio for his third Olympics.
“I'm going to be focusing on my training over the next few weeks,” Smith said. “I've lost some weight with all the travelling and want to get some muscle back.
“I'll definitely compete three more times before the Olympics. Maybe one Diamond League and two smaller events.
“I'd like to get a personal best before I go to Rio. That's always my goal and then I'll try and jump even bigger.”