Superb Shanieka!
Ricketts hungry for more after winning first gold medal
Jamaica's Shanieka Ricketts competes in the women's triple jump during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on August 5, 2022. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

BIRMINGHAM, England — A consistent performer at the highest level, Jamaican triple jump standout Shanieka Ricketts is thrilled to have won her first gold medal at the senior international level and is already looking ahead to improvements after topping the podium at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in record-breaking fashion.

Ricketts won the event with her first jump, a games record 14.94m effort that squeezed the life out of the competition on another frigid night inside Alexander Stadium.

In one jump, she managed to tick two boxes on her 'to do' list, but while she will savour the historic success, the 30-year-old is already charting a course to even greater success and further improvements.

"This is my first time winning the Commonwealth Games, so to come out tonight and get the victory, I'm very happy. I feel pretty good. When you put in all the hard work and then finally get on top of the podium, it is definitely a great feeling," Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer.

Shanieka Ricketts celebrates after winning gold in the women's triple jump during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on August 5, 2022. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

With two World Championships and a Commonwealth Games silver medal also to her credit, Ricketts, who in terms of distances is the second-best Jamaican triple jumper in history behind Trecia Kaye Smith, said it was important to set the tone from her first time on the runway.

"I knew that the conditions weren't ideal for the best jumps. So I wanted to get something out early similar to what happened in Eugene and hopefully build on that," said Ricketts. "It felt good. I know it wasn't the best execution but it felt like it was somewhere over 14.9m, so I knew that it could basically challenge the record."

"I think one of the biggest things is my support system and we've also been students of the sport, my husband and I. We work very hard, I have basically no social life outside of track and field, so I think putting in the hard work over the years and just being consistent has been a testament to the support system that I have in my husband and my agent Norman Peart, and just basically putting in the work and staying consistent over the years," Ricketts said.

Jamaica now has three gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the Games.

Kimberly Williams finished fourth with 14.25m while Ackelia Smith, 13.83m, the third Jamaican in the final – a first for the country – was sixth.

The silver medal went to Dominica's Thea Lafond, 14.39m with England's Naomi Metzger, 14.37m, capturing third place with a personal best.

Freshly minted 100m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah was impressive in her 200m semi-final victory, dominating the field and topping all qualifiers for today's final with a controlled 22.63 clocking. She will be joined by a first-time senior international finalist Natalliah Whyte, who ran to second place in her semi-final with a 23.09-seconds clocking.

Also today, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will be hunting their first appearance in a Commonwealth Games final, when they play New Zealand in the semi-finals at the NEC Arena.

Meanwhile, there was disappointment for O'Dayne Richard in the men's shot put final as the World Championships bronze and Commonwealth Games gold medal-winner managing a sixth-place finish with a 19.90m effort.

The gold medal was won by New Zealand's Tom Walsh with 22.26m with his teammate Jacko Gill, 21.90m taking the silver medal. England's Scott Lincoln was third with 20.57m.

Both Jamaicans are through to tomorrow's final of the women's 100m hurdles event after strong runs in yesterday's heats.

Megan Tapper ran 12.68 seconds to win her heat, while 2018 Gold Coast silver medallist Danielle Williams was second in her race with a time of 12.80.

They will both be hard-pressed to beat world champion and world record holder Tobi Amusan from Nigeria who eased her way to a games record 12.40 seconds in her heat.

The team of Karayme Bartley, Anthony Cox, Navasky Anderson, and Javon Anderson was second in their 4x400m heat in a time of 3:05.20 behind Botswana, 3:05.11, with Zambia, 3:06.02 finishing third.

Ackelia Smith is through to the women's long jump final after her 6.35m effort in the qualification round was enough to get into tomorrow's final.

Kadrian Goldson, who was originally selected to compete in the 4x100, failed to make it into the final of the men's 200m, running sixth in 21.13 seconds in the semi-finals.

In badminton, Tahlia Richardson and Katherine Wynter go the better of Ghana's Prospera Nontua and Cindy Tornyenyor 2-0 (21-5, 21-6) in women's doubles round-of-16 action at the National Exhibition Centre.

In the male equivalent, Joel Angus and Samuel Ricketts suffered a 2-0 (21-11, 21-9) defeat at the hands of Australia's Jack Yu and Hoang Pham, while Richardson went down 2-0 (21-11, 21-11) to Hsuan-Yu Chen also from Australia.

Ricketts was too strong for Ahmed Nibal (Maldives), winning their men's singles round of 16 match 2-0 (21-9, 21-6) to make progress.

In the mixed doubles round of 16 contest between Angus and Wynter against the England pair of Jessica Pugh and Callum Hemming, the home team ran out 2-0 (21-11, 21-7) winners.

The squash duo of Chris Binnie and Julian Morrison were defeated 2-0 (11-5, 11-5) by Australia's Ryan Cuskelly and Zac Alexander in the men's doubles round of 16.

BY ANDRE LOWE Sports content manager lowea@jamaicaobserver.com

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