Olympic Newbies: Carey McLeod sets sight on medalThursday, July 29, 2021
By Daniel Blake
Jumper Carey McLeod almost had his Olympic dream snatched away due to COVID-19 but now he has his sights set on winning a medal at his first ever Games.
On July 22, it was revealed that the 23-year-old tested positive for the coronavirus and was unable to join the Jamaican contingent in Tokyo.
However, McLeod returned a negative test a few days later and arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday as he prepares to compete in the long and triple jump events. He is the only athlete in the world to qualify for both events.
He gained extra inspiration to qualify for this summer's championships after watching compatriot Tajay Gayle become long jump world champion in 2019.
“When Tajay won the world championships, it kinda open up everybody eyes now and that year me say, 'yeah Jamaica really ago start do it now,'” he said. “Mi just a come off a fractured heel and when mi see him do it, mi say next year we ago out deh! It definitely was a motivation for me to say Jamaicans can really do it.”
The former Kingston College star currently holds the fourth best mark in the long jump in Jamaica's history with a personal best 8.34 metres and has the eighth best jump of the 2021 season. He's proud of his accomplishments but understands he has more work to do.
“Looking at the progression from like 2015 when mi just start do track and field to now, it kinda blow my mind sometimes but sometimes mi can't get complacent,” he said.
“With achieving certain stuff, you can't get complacent because there's always more you can achieve so it's just more of figuring out how me can get better each time and also how to remain humble and reach to the next level.”
The University of Tennessee student is also excited that more Jamaicans will be focusing on the jumps this year, compared to previous Olympic Games.
“We start get little more attention. We nuh get the respect a sprinter woulda get inna Jamaica but now we a showcase we talent, show what we capable of so me woulda definitely say it's an honour to be amongst the athletes dem weh a uplift the sport inna the country,” he said.
Although he is becoming accustomed to the attention from the Jamaican fans, the Clarendon native always had the support of his mother.
“Her work ethics and stuff like that, mi take a lot from mi mother and mi always talk to mi mother more than anything else because sports day and stuff like that, she was always there. She used to come mi sports day and behave like she a cheerleader and it was just amazing to watch her being excited when you a do well and stuff like that.”
He now plans to make his mother and the country proud at the Games by earning a spot on the podium.
“The goal weh mi have is fi walk weh with a medal. Mi nuh care what colour it be, mi a walk weh wid a medal but the first step is just make the final, survive the rounds then go to work in the final. That's been my goal all season.”
It would also be a great achievement for McLeod to finish in the top three of the triple jump, seeing that he does not train for the event.
“Mi nuh practice triple jump so when mi do triple jump on the track (at meets), that's the only practice I have,” he said. “I guess me versatile. Being a jumper, you don't need fi jump that much because the more you can save your body, the better it is for you so I think that's an advantage I gain of not practicing everyday so me body never go through the stress.”
McLeod will start competition on Saturday in the men's long jump and continue with the men's triple jump on Tuesday, August 3.
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