The Star (Jamaica)

Beckford part of new high jump wave

- HUBERT LAWRENCE STAR Writer

When Jamaica’s Romaine Beckford emerged the victor at the 126th staging of the Penn Relays in the high jump, his personal best clearance of 2.23m amplified a new Jamaica wave in the event.

A week earlier, Christoff Bryan started the wave at Velocity Fest 11 in Kingston. Back from years ruined by injury, Bryan competed for the first time in two seasons and, though the 2014 World Under-20 Championsh­ips fourth placer didn’t clear a bar, the 2017 NCAA champion was back. The wave gathered momentum at Penn as Beckford became the first Jamaican in history to win the college men’s title.

It wasn’t easy because Shaun Miller, who beat Beckford into third at the 2019 Carifta Games, matched the Jamaican jump for jump.

“It was very intense,” Beckford said. “I actually like the competitio­n so I liked how the crowd turn out and really supported us.”

The 19 year-old Portlander is a jumper on the move. He cleared 2.20 during his time at South Plains Junior College, for whom he won a national indoor title, and, a week before Penn, he cleared 2.21.

These days, Beckford is studying communicat­ions at the University of South Florida but he is clear about his direction in life.

“I love sports so much,” he said. “I’m not going to say I don’t see myself out of sports but my main thing is, whenever I’m finished with track, I just want to continue and be a high jump coach. That’s one of Jamaica’s weakest events and that’s why I take it so seriously.”

Jamaica has never won an Olympic or World Championsh­ip medal in this discipline.

Informed that Velocity Fest winner Lushane Wilson and Bryan are active, he replied, “I just wanna see Jamaicans strive

more in the high jump. So I’m building and they’re building, just push each other to do better in the future. That’s my main goal right now, to put Jamaica on the map for high jump.”

Winner of a rare high jump-discus double at the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championsh­ips (Champs) in 2018, Beckford is eternally grateful to his Buff Bay High School coach.

“I thank my high-school coach Kevin Brown for making me a very great athlete and just making me who I am today,” he said. “At first, I wasn’t a person that did schoolwork and stuff. I was just all in track, and he’s the one that put it out that you can’t do track without doing your schoolwork, because ain’t no way you’re going to get a scholarshi­p without doing your schoolwork.”

Brown stood by him when he missed the Champs discus final in 2019 and performed modestly in the high jump. The coach sent him to South Plains early and Beckford is now the seventh best Jamaican high jumper of all times.

“I’m just going to keep on progressin­g and show the world who I am,” he

promised.

 ?? IAN ALLEN ?? In this file photo from February 2018, Romaine Beckford, then of Buff Bay High School clears the bar at 2.05m during the Eastern Athletics Championsh­ips at the National Stadium in Kingston.
IAN ALLEN In this file photo from February 2018, Romaine Beckford, then of Buff Bay High School clears the bar at 2.05m during the Eastern Athletics Championsh­ips at the National Stadium in Kingston.

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