Mathue Tapper admits that he had started celebrating even as Olympic officials were still trying to determine the silver and bronze medal winners in the women's 100m hurdles at the Tokyo Games on Sunday.
“I was already halfway down the road celebrating. I already knew that she had gotten the bronze medal,” he said as he basked in his wife, Megan's achievement.
“She was actually wondering if she had gotten silver or bronze, but she already knew she had medalled. I could have seen it from she got off the last hurdle,” Mathue told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Megan Tapper crossed the finish line in 12.55 seconds, claiming the bronze medal and creating history by becoming the first Jamaican woman to medal in that event at the Olympic Games.
After a disastrous first appearance at the Olympics in Brazil in 2016, her second appearance at the Games was a quest for redemption for the 27-year-old.
The former MVP Track Club athlete, who decided to split from her old club, is now coached by her husband.
“Honestly, it feels like a dream come true, as many people may know Megan has been working hard for a number of years trying to get in this position. Her last major championship she was out in lane eight and there was a mishap with the blocks and she didn't get to finish the race,” he recalled.
“The 2016 Olympics she made it to the semi-finals; 2017 [World Championships] she made it to the semi-finals, so it feels like a huge accomplishment, it feels like a gold medal to us,” said Mathue, who was delirious with joy after the race.
A former athlete himself, Mathue said he expected both a personal best and a medal from his wife, having spent the last year getting every part of her race perfect.
“I anticipated that she would have run a big, big PB (personal best). I was looking for somewhere in the range of 12.58/12.48 and looking at the competition ahead of schedule. And, understanding how big a role experience plays, I did expect her to medal,” he revealed.
“We didn't know initially that was the case, but we heard it mentioned on TV, and it made it even two times more special. To be the first Jamaican woman to do something of such magnitude is definitely a huge accomplishment, and we are really grateful to be the ones to do that,” he said.
Megan's father, Merryck Simmonds, was so involved that mentally he said he ran the race with his daughter.
“At the start of the race I tried to compose myself, because I didn't want Megan to be nervous, I wanted her to relax, because if she got nervous that could be problems; so I tried to breathe like I was running the race,” he told the Observer last evening.
“During the race I just prayed that she would relax and execute. At the end of the race, I just exhaled. Hearing that there was a challenge to separate second and third place wasn't a problem to me; second or third, Megan was on the podium, so it was joy to me. I could exhale, I was so happy, I was out of this world. Megan has finally gotten an Olympic medal. I was on top of the world,” he exclaimed.
The proud dad, who is actively involved in his daughter's life, said that the sacrifices made over the years have all been worth it.
“Hearing that Megan is the first Jamaican woman to have gotten a medal in the 100m hurdles at the Olympics, it feels so good, it is a feeling that is difficult to explain. The climb to get here has been a very difficult one but looking back I am so happy that Megan has stuck to it and I am so happy that we have given her the support, because today it is a wonderful feeling,” Simmonds said.
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