Jamal Wilson comes of age, reminiscent of Steve Wray

JAMAL WILSON

Congratulations Jamal Wilson!

Welcome to the elite circle of Bahamian high jumpers! When Wilson came so close to the gold medal, before settling for silver at the Gold Coast (Australia) Commonwealth Games on Wednesday, it was special and catapulted him finally into the upper echelon group of Bahamian high jumpers who have won medals on the senior international stage.

Interestingly enough, I had a brief flashback to Steven Wray. Perhaps, it’s good that I did, because he is often forgotten. Wray was a tremendously gifted high jumper with potential never fully maximized, but he owns a page in Bahamian sports history. It was he who broke ground for The Bahamas in the high jump event at the Commonwealth Games.

In Australia also, Wray achieved his greatest claim to fame. At the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Wray won the silver medal at the height of, a then games and national record, 2.31 meters. A little over a quarter of a century later, he went missing.

Wilson of course, with his silver medal, mirrors Wray more than any of the other leading era high bar jumpers, in my view. There have been some regional successes, certainly, but the Commonwealth Games hardware he captured, to date, is his highest honor as a competitor.

It has come in good time. Wilson will be 30 in September. Although he seems to be somewhat of a late bloomer, the window of prime performances, figures to be closing. Unlike Wray who was 20 when he medaled in Brisbane, Wilson is at a ripe age for athletes and it must be particularly gratifying to him, to hit the milestone just before he reaches 30.

I say this much. After looking carefully at video clips of Wilson’s series of jumps, I formed the view that a jump in the mid 2.30 meters is realistic. He should be extremely confident now that he has prevailed among some of the best jumpers in the world. Barring injuries he will bear watching for sure, over the next several years, leading into the Tokyo Olympics of 2020.

Wilson has a ways to go to come close to matching his highly decorated teammate, the veteran Donald Thomas, (fourth on Wednesday) who will be 34 in July; and the national record (2.38 meters) holder Troy Kemp. Thomas has World Champ Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, Central American and Caribbean Games gold medals in his pocket and his career best of 2.37 meters makes him the second highest jumper in Bahamian history.

Record holder Kemp was a world champion in 1995.

The aforementioned should prove to be great motivation for Wilson. In winning the first medal for The Bahamas at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Wilson shined brightly.

Continued best wishes!

•To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.

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