Long jumper Smith likes to make coach ‘sweat a little’
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Ackelia Smith is getting into the habit of coming from behind with big jumps, after she produced a clutch effort in the third and final round of Saturday’s qualifying round to book a spot in today’s long jump final of the 19th World Athletics Championships at National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary.
After fouling her first two efforts Smith — the world leader in the event — popped off a 6.78m (-0.3m/s) effort, fourth best on the day, then joked: “I think I like making my coach sweat a little.”
Just over two months ago at the NCAA Division One Outdoors Championships Smith, who attends University of Texas, fouled her first two efforts in the final then jumped 6.88m (-0.2m/s) in the final round to win the competition.
On Saturday she told the media she was hoping to make life easier for her Coach Edrick Floreal. “I am definitely going to work on it [fouling] as I definitely don’t want the same experience for the final. So, I’ll try and go there and execute on the first one, and if doesn’t work [then I’ll] execute on the second one.”
She explained that the early rain which delayed the start of the morning session had resulted in cool conditions, and that may have had some effect.
“I think I just got a little bit cold after the warm-up, and for the second one [jump] I was over the board by a little, but on the third one I just knew I had to get it right,” Smith said. She described the mark as “a safe jump; I mean it’s no 6.80m automatic but it got the job done”.
The former Edwin Allen High jumper, who was a finalist in the triple jump at last year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, said she was not worried after the two fouls.
“As I said before, I’ve gotten used to the third jump so I was like, ‘Okay, don’t sweat too much’ and I wasn’t that nervous.”
She admitted that the long college season had taken its toll on her legs and body. “I have a little niggle here and there but I’m ready to end the season on a good note,” Smith assured.
Meanwhile, national champion Tissanna Hickling failed to get past the first round in her second major championships and said she was “disappointed despite the season that I had”.
Hickling, who jumped a personal best 6.85m to win the national title — the exact World Championships qualifying mark for the long jump — was hopeful for some positive results to close out her season.
“Having already got a personal best this year, if I can get another one out of the rest of the season I would really be really grateful,” she ended.