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Jones jumping into record books

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Jones jumping into record books

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Akela Jones loves a challenge.
And this year it’s the long jump which she has in her sights.
Last Sunday at the Louis Lynch Championships, Jones set a new junior national record of 6.28 metres in the long jump, erasing the 6.18 she had set last year.
The achievement wasn’t announced at the National Stadium, and there was nothing from Jones to indicate it had even happened.
It came on the very last attempt as she improved from 6.10m to 6.24 after spiking herself in the left hand near the wrist on the third jump.
“I wanted to jump better,” the 16-year-old told SUNSPORT.
“Some days you’re down, some days you’re up. I wasn’t excited about the jump at all.”
Small wonder when she did 6.42 metres at the Springer Memorial Inter-House Track and Field Championships last month.
“That felt amazing,” she said, excitement clear in her voice. “I was warm. I had run about three races before and my muscles were completely warmed up and stretched. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to go and break any records. I was completely relaxed, it was just inter-house sports.”
She has Cherita Howard’s national record of 6.43m, set back in April 1996, as the mark to beat, but it will be a systematic approach.
To improve her speed on the run-up, she will be running more 100s this season, but she is leaving those details up to her coach Neil Crichlow.
“I’m looking forward to going and breaking it. My coach told me to go do 6.3 or 6.4 [on Sunday] and I went out there and did my best.”
Jones loves the stage at Inter-School Sports and puts on quite a show for spectators in the Louis Lynch Stand each year. She still holds the Under-15 (5.64m) and Under-17 (5.77m) records, having lost the Under-13 to Cristanna McConney (5.19m) last year.
Now in her first year in the Under-20 division, Fiona Sobers’ mark of 5.73m which was set 20 years ago, seems set to fall, once all goes to plan.
While the distance doesn’t represent much of a challenge, Jones is cautiously optimistic.
“Through the years at Inter-School Sports, it has been the norm for me to jump less than I did at track meets. I don’t know why. When I focus [on breaking records] I over-think stuff,” she said.
With that one leap of 6.28m, Jones met the qualifying standard for the CARIFTA Games in April, followed by the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships and the World Junior Championships in June and July, respectively.
“Since there are two high points to the season, I hope to go back to more strenuous workouts, doing more weightlifting and come back out stronger for Barbados Nationals and World Juniors,” she said.