Shanieka Ricketts placing faith in Ackelia Smith
When World Athletics Championships silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts says Jamaica's future in women's triple jumping is in good hands even when she retires, she is referring to the promise she sees in young jumper Ackelia Smith, who made her debut at a major global championships last week.
Ricketts captured back-to-back World championships silver medals last Monday, with a jump of 14.84m in a final which included her national teammate Kimberly Williams and Smith. It was the first time that Jamaica has had three athletes in the event at a major global final.
Smith finished 12th with her best attempt being 13.90, but Ricketts is focused on the biggest picture and is optimistic about her future.
"It is a historic moment,"Ricketts said. "I didn't have the opportunity to compete with both Trecia-Kaye Smith (2005 triple jump World champion), and Kimberly at the World championships or the Olympic games. So to have young Ackelia, who is just in her first year of college being in the championships in the final, really shows that Jamaica's triple jump is in good hands, and when we decide to walk away from the sport we know that it is in good hands and it is good to see."
While disappointed with her efforts, Smith said that she now heads to the Commonwealth Games with valuable experience.
"I'm sad that I didn't get the personal best that I wanted, but I got a lot of experience," she said. "I got to compete with some of the ladies that I look up to. Hopefully, I will use the lessons that I have learned here to come back and apply them to my next competition."
The milestone was not lost on national jumps coach Marlon Gayle, who shares Ricketts' optimism about Smith's potential, and the emerging talent in the discipline.
"It was a great achievement for us as a country," he said. "There were certainly high expectations. The motivation going into the final was right there. We were all cheering for everyone, regardless of the results. There are quite a few hungry triple jumpers coming up and they will certainly also represent well in that area."