Soaring ambition
Commonwealth Games champion Ricketts hunts triple jump record
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)

After securing hardware at the World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games this summer, Jamaican triple jump standard-bearer Shanieka Ricketts is being primed to challenge the 15m mark and the national record, which has stood for almost two decades.

On August 5 Ricketts added Commonwealth gold to the silver medal she won at the World Athletics Championships, a few days earlier, as she continues to establish herself as the island's top competitor in the event and the main challenger to the impressive Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas, the world record holder.

Ricketts landed 14.94m in the sand at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England, to top the field at the Commonwealth Games and set a games record with what was her second-best distance ever, after the 14.98m personal best that she recorded at the Doha Diamond League meet last season.

Those distances have her as the second-best Jamaican in the event behind Trecia Kaye Smith, who is responsible for the top four marks, capped by the 15.16m national record, which was done in 2004.

Jamaica's Shanieka Ricketts celebrates with the Jamaican flag after her gold medal-winning exploits at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, recently. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Kerrylee Ricketts, husband and coach of the 30-year-old jumper, believes she has the ability and form to get her name at the top of the list once the conditions are perfect.

"She's in shape right now to do great things," said Kerrylee Ricketts. "We're targeting a few things, the first one being the national record. Once we go to a competition where the weather is conducive to some big jumping, I mean, let's see what happens there."

Ricketts jumped 14.91m in her last outing at the Monaco Diamond League meet last Wednesday, securing her twelfth top-two finish in her 13 outings so far this season.

Reflecting on her efforts in Birmingham, Kerrylee Ricketts pointed to the frigid conditions inside Alexander Stadium, adding that, despite not breaching the 15m barrier, she managed to match most of her targets at the championship.

Jamaica's Shanieka Ricketts in full flight in the women's triple jump final of the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, recently. The Jamaican repeated her silver medal feat of Doha 2019. Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas won gold, while USA's Tori Franklin copped bronze. (Photo: AFP)

"I'm not gonna lie, I mean we were looking to set a new games record and we achieved it. The season best is actually 14.89m, we were looking to actually accomplish a new season best there and we accomplished that. Her personal bests? We were actually aiming for that, but the weather wasn't actually conducive, it was really cold. Technically, she was jumping good, but she just got really, really cold after the first jump," said Kerrylee Ricketts.

The coach pointed to the technical work being done as the main reason behind the athlete's consistency over the past few seasons.

"We've been working a lot. We were working on phases, so we have basically completed the whole cycle now, so we are basically now just polishing off stuff. So we got speed, we got the hop, we've got the step, and we worked on the last phase, so we're just basically putting things together," said Ricketts.

In addition to her successes so far this season, Ricketts also won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and was second at the previous Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, behind compatriot Kimberly Williams.

Ricketts is expected to feature at the Lausanne Diamond League meet on August 26 as well as the finale in Zurich on September 7.

BY ANDRE LOWE Sports content manager

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