DREAM IN FLAMES
On the brink of tears: Thomas-Dodd wades through disappointing end to OlympicsSaturday, July 31, 2021
BY IAN BURNETT
TOKYO, Japan — Danniel Thomas-Dodd made a slow, lonely stroll through the mixed zone at the end of the women's shot put competition on Friday night.
Stopped in her tracks and asked to comment on her performance by the Jamaica Observer, she agreed but then appeared hesitant for a moment or two.
It was obvious that she was extremely emotional, on the brink of tears, but encouraged by this reporter to take her time, she collected herself and started the interview.
The 28-year-old had a lot on her mind and she appeared unaware of how to go about it. But she did.
“To be honest, it's been a tough season. I've had this on and off back injury and for the first time all season I felt like I was actually getting some of the things I was working on with my technique somewhat sorted out, so this result is really hard [to take],” she confessed.
Thomas-Dodd, the silver medallist at the Doha World Championships in 2019, was ranked third in the world and she was expecting a lot more success than the 18.37m she threw which could only place her in the sixth position in Group B and well off the required 18.80m or being among the top 12 performers on the day.
“This is my second Olympics and I would have hoped to have made the finals and I could have but when you are told that your personal coach is not among the list of coaches to make this trip, it's really hard,” she explained.
Thomas-Dodd is coached by her husband Shane Dodd, and according to Danniel, she was told that the athletics association had space for only four personal coaches and Shane was not one of them.
She feels let down by that decision.
“Absolutely, I don't know what the issue was but they told me they were only allowed to have four personal coaches and unfortunately, mine wasn't a part of those four coaches so it made things very hard. When you don't have that one person who knows your technique and knows the cues that you would need in a competition like this to make sure and ensure that you do what you have been doing all year, it's very disappointing.”
She added: “Under the circumstances I think I did the best that I could have done and not make the final, it's going to take me a while to get over this one.”
Thomas-Dodd, who had been singularly flying the Jamaican flag high in women's shot put in recent years, stressed the importance of having a coach with his athlete in such a technical event, where every centimetre counts.
“You have to know a lot about the event itself and the athlete that you are coaching, so for me I think the fact that my coach wasn't here, definitely affected my performance. There are certain cues that an athlete needs when they are throwing, there are certain cues that the coach would use or certain things that the coach would say to that athlete to help them or to remind them to get through certain things and the fact that my coach wasn't here it made things a little more difficult because I didn't have those cues, I didn't have the opportunity to perform at the best that I felt that I could have performed. Since we switched coaches this is the first time he's not with me at a major championship,” lamented the Pan Am Games gold medallist, World Championships silver medallist and World Indoor Championships silver medallist.
Thomas-Dodd felt Shane's absence even more and admitted that that in itself could have led to a mental dilemma as well, as she felt vulnerable during competition, which was a hard pill to swallow.
“He's been with me at all the competitions that I've done really well, Trials, when I had both my season's best and it's someone that you have been working with all season who understands your cues, so I'm very, very disappointed and I know if my coach was here I would have done a lot better.
“When you are there and all your competitors have all that they need to make sure that they are successful and when you look around and you don't have anyone at a stage like this it's really hard because I know in myself I could have done way better but it's hard to kind of pick yourself up after not having that one person that knows you and has been training with you all year,” she reiterated.
She says she felt alone and it made competing a lot harder.
“I'm not going to lie it's going to take a while and based on the season I had in 2019 this should have been a walk in the park for me but it wasn't. I know the type of person that I am and I know that this is just a step and I know that God has something planned for me and I just have to believe that everything happens for a reason.
“I have to pick myself up and just keep going, but I'm not going to lie as I feel moments like this any athlete would want to or feel like giving up but … it's going to take a while for me to dust the rust off and dust the disappointment off but I'll definitely have to do some talking with my coach and see where we go from here.”
Still, Thomas-Dodd believes her performance at this edition of the Games was better than in Rio five years ago because she's now much more comfortable with the nuances of her event and her growth as a shot putter.
So what the one thing that she takes away from the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020?
“To remember this feeling of disappointment and frustration, everything all in one, that's the only thing I can take away from this,” she ended.
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