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Kai Chang hopes to emulate Dacres in discus

Thursday, July 12, 2018

TAMPERE, Finland — Kai Chang is the only thrower in the Jamaican continent of over 40 athletes but if he was feeling any pressure it would be difficult to tell as the 6-foot six-inch 18-year-old is a picture of calm and relaxation as he awaits the start of the discus throw at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Chang, who won the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Junior Championships, was so relaxed (or tired from the long trip) last Sunday that he fell asleep in the stands at a training session and had to be awakened for a team meeting.

Earlier in the day he had told the Jamaican Observer he was ready to take up the mantle and carry on the tradition set by his training partners Fedric Dacres and Traves Smikle, medallists at the IAAF level.

“I am feeling good and confident and I am looking forward to making the finals and earning myself a medal,” he said. “I think I am at my best right now, I have been throwing the 2K disc, the senior weight, most of the season and it was slowing me down but to prepare for the Under-20 Championships I have switched back to the junior weight.”

As recent as three weeks ago, it was almost a given that Jamaica would have two representatives at the Under-20 World Championships but a combination of bad luck left Chang as the only one.

Phillipe Barnett, who was second at the JAAA National Junior Championships, was unable to travel after losing his travel documents and an attempt to replace him with Roje Stona, the most consistent and longest Jamaican thrower this year with a personal best 63.77m making him the fifth best in the world, was not successful as the entry deadline had passed.

Chang rued the absence of Stona, whom he has battled all year, saying: “Stona is a world-class athlete and he is one of the reasons I have come this far, we have pushed each other all year.”

He is not looking too far ahead though and says he wants to first qualify for the finals and to get the 60.00m automatic qualifying mark before starting to work on getting the second Jamaican medal at the Under-20 championships, matching Dacres, who won gold in Barcelona, Spain in 2012.