Morgan, Smikle begin medal hunt today
LONDON, England —Jamaica's two best discus throwers ever — Jason Morgan and phenom Traves Smikle — will come face-to-face with their destinies this morning when they compete in the preliminary round of the Olympic men's discus throw at Olympic Park, Stratford, London.
Morgan has broken the national record four times, including twice this year, to push it to 67.15m, while 20-year-old Smikle is just a fraction back at 67.12m set in June at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Trials at the National Stadium where he retained his national title.
Arguably, Jamaicans have improved in the discus throw, more than any other track and field event, over the past five years, and with two IAAF gold medals from World Youth and World Junior champion Fedrick Dacres and a World Youth bronze from Smikle, the event has produced quality medals.
Today, Jason Morgan, the national record holder with 67.15m, will contest Group A, set to start at 10:00 am (4:00 am Jamaica time), followed by Smikle in Group B at 11:20 am UK time (5:20 am Jamaica time). With the automatic qualifying distance being 65.00m, both men should be able to qualify for the final, creating further history for Jamaican track and field.
Inspired by the historic performance of Dorian Scott in the shot put, in which he placed 10th — the first time a Jamaican thrower was making an Olympic final — both men told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that they were ready to do their best.
The effusive and expressive Morgan, who did duties earlier on in the Games as one of sprinter Usain Bolt's bodyguards, said he thinks he "can do something special" here.
"I am ready to go out there and give it my best," he told the Observer in an interview yesterday. "I keep on seeing myself holding that discus and standing confidently in that circle. My meditations give me confirmation that this Olympics Games is going
to be special."
Morgan, who threw his national record in April but was second for the second consecutive year behind Smikle at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials, said: "I'm looking forward to competing well and making my supporters and country proud."
He said Scott's performance on Friday's first day of track and field competition has inspired him in ways that words can't describe. "It makes me feel even more powerful, beyond measure. I feel I have to do my part now," he said.
Smikle, who started the ball rolling in 2009 in Italy when he won a surprise bronze, Jamaica's first global throwing medal, said his first priority is to qualify at the preliminaries. "I have not set any targets
in terms of distance, I just need to get out there and get to the final."
Despite throwing over 67.00m at trials to get the Olympic A qualifying standard, Smikle said he still considers himself a 64.00m thrower, but based on his constant improvements so far this year, getting into tomorrow afternoon's final should not be too difficult.