Putting money where his mouth is
Thrower Richards promises to ‘fling it big at Comm Games’
ON Saturday, O'Dayne Richards became only the second Jamaican male shot putter to go over the 21.00-metre mark when he set a new personal best, 21.11m, to place second at the 11th Jamaica International Invitational meet at the National Stadium behind winner Christian Cantwell, who won with a world-leading and meet record 21.85m.
Richards' previous best was 20.97m set last year while winning the Central American and Caribbean senior title in Mexico and qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
The 25-year-old UTech student will not take all the credit for himself and his hard work, saying fellow throwers, both local and international, had helped tremendously.
"I get a lot of help from other throwers, who don't impose themselves on you, but if you ask they will give you tips and advice," he told the Jamaica Observer, yesterday.
Sometimes the help goes further than in the shot put circle alone, recalling his experiences in Europe with the MVP Track Club last year. "Some meet promoters don't provide transport for us to go get meals and (Americans) Cory Roberts and Kurt Martin invited me to join them in a car they had to go get food and get around," he said.
Both Roberts and Martin competed at the National Stadium on Saturday, finishing third and sixth, respectively.
Richards said the camaraderie was good, and after the event everyone wished each other well.
Richards also added that he is not shy to ask for help from his fellow competitors if and when he needs it.
Having conquered the 21.00m mark, Richards, who will compete next at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, China, next week says the national record 21.45m set by Dorian Scott in March 2008 in Tallahassee, Florida, could be his next target.
"Not many Jamaicans have gone over 21.00m, and so far this year, not many throwers in the world have got there either," said Richards, who has now moved up to number seven on the IAAF performance rankings from joint 14th.
"If I can go 21.00m then I can look to go 22.00m as well... this is a big boost to my confidence to know that I can throw so far," he said.
The 5' 7" inch tall thrower, added that his experience has been driving his new-found heights.
"I have reached a respectable level and I got there from my experience and from watching what the top guys in the world do," he said.
After his taste of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow last year and the World Indoors in Sopot, Poland, this year, Richards has his eyes fixed on competing at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland this summer, but says first he has to get past the National Senior Trials set for July.
In Scotland, based on the early performances, his major competition could come from New Zealand's Tomas Walsh, who is ranked one place ahead of him with a season's best 21.16m, while Canadian Tim Nedow is currently in ninth place with 20.98m.
The season is still in its early stages, however, and it is expected that the likes of New Zealand's Jacko Gil could force himself into medal contention come July.