Injury-free Jah-Nhai Perinchief happy to put his best foot forward
Jah-Nhai Perinchief has taken his belated debut at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships all in stride.
The University of Tennessee graduate student earned the silver medal in the triple jump in Eugene, Oregon, with a leap that was not only a personal best but also a school record and just outside the qualifying standard for the Tokyo Olympics.
Perinchief jumped 17.03 metres (55ft 10½in) with his first jump in the final to break the previous Tennessee record of 16.94 that had stood for 36 years and eclipse his own PB of 16.69.
He concluded the meet with 17.01, which should provide mitigation in the event the Bermuda National Athletics Association wishes to argue his case for inclusion at Tokyo 2020 with the Bermuda Olympic Association.
“I have no complaints and more happy to just finish it healthy,” Perinchief told The Royal Gazette. “I achieved a personal best twice in one meet, so that was good.
“I finally know what it feels like to have big jumps and every time I have jumped from full approach and been healthy I have had a personal best, so it means I am progressing. I am learning and things are constantly clicking.
“But overall I’m just excited to be healthy and actually make it to the championships because over the past years I’d qualify and be hurt.”
As for breaking his school’s record in the triple jump, set by John Tillman in 1985, Perinchief said: “It’s a cool achievement but records are meant to be broken.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets broken next year because of the talent of Coach [Travis Geopfert] and who he recruits and the talent of my team-mate, Carey McLeod.”
Beth Alford-Sullivan, the Tennessee head coach, hailed the Bermudian’s successful debut at the championships in his final appearance for the school.
“Jah-Nhai is a young man that is just a wonderful person," he commented on the school’s website. "He's had a collegiate path that has taken him to a handful of different places. He ended up with us, and saved his best for last.
“In his path at other schools, he had qualified for the nationals but been injured and unable to compete. This one, he was healthy and obviously on top of his game. A goal of his was to get that school record, and we're very proud of that effort and his performance here.”
Sullivan added: “He brings a lot of life to the whole team. A positive guy, positive person with a big future ahead of him.
“The Orange will always be a piece of him, and he'll always be a piece of our history here now. I couldn't be more proud.”
Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, is thrilled over Perinchief’s achievement, which she says the island should be proud of.
“Placing second at NCAA is no small feat,” she said. “You’re talking about the top two out of every single university in the United States, so that’s a huge feat. All of Bermuda should be proud of that accomplishment.”
Raynor added: “I am just pleased that Jah-Nhai has had an injury-free season and his talents are being shown.
“Jah-Nhai has always been talented in this sport. It started with high jump and he was doing well but then injuries set in and he changed his event because of his injuries.
“I am just happy that he has been able to get through this entire season injury-free and show his ability.”
University of Oregon freshman Emmanuel Ihemeje won the gold medal with a personal best of 17.14. Texas Christian University junior Chengetayi Mapaya won the bronze with a jump of 16.74.