September 29, 2019 / 6:45 PM / 10 months ago

Athletics: New champion Gayle can go on to break long jump world record, coach says

DOHA (Reuters) - Tajay Gayle, Jamaica’s first world long-jump champion, can go on to break the world record, his coach Stephen Francis said on Sunday.

Sep 28, 2019; Doha, Qatar; Tajay Gayle (JAM) takes victory lap with Jamaican flag after winning the long jump during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at Khalifa International Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“That is the aim,” Francis told Reuters from the training track at the Khalifa Stadium, a day after Gayle jumped a personal best of 8.69 meters to beat favorite Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba to the gold medal in Doha.

Francis said he believed Gayle could eventually beat American Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95m which has stood since 1991.

“He was 23 this year and he has only been with us (MVP Track and Field Club) for four years so, given the lifespan of the athletes who we normally have, barring injuries and bad luck and him being able to cope with all that this (gold medal) will bring and to focus, I think he’ll go a lot further in the near future,” he said.

“The IAAF table, which normalizes performances across all the events, says that his jump yesterday is better than 9.77 seconds in the 100m and slightly less given the wind,” added Francis, who coached Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to three World and two Olympic 100m titles and Elaine Thompson to the Olympic sprint double at Rio 2016.

“It was one hundredth less, one point less, than 9.76 which (gold medalist Christian) Coleman ran.

“So therefore he’s on the level of Coleman which says it all. He has propelled himself into the stratosphere and I expect him to go even further, maybe to the moon who knows?

“Obviously it is quite satisfying that he went further than I had expected him to go. I expected him to go 8.5m or thereabouts and it’s a tribute to his ability to concentrate and ignore the pressure and to execute to get as far as he did with the (all-time) 10th furthest jump in the World,” Francis added.

Gayle paid tribute to Francis, who also coached former world-record holder Asafa Powell in the sprint and Jamaican-born high jumper Germaine Mason who won silver for Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It’s a dream come true and I’m very, very grateful for this,” Gayle told Reuters on Saturday. “(Credit) to Stephen Francis, who is my very motivational coach.”

(This story has been refiled to fix byline)

Editing by Clare Fallon

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