By Anthony Foster, Trackalerts.com writer
Kellion Knibb and Shadae Lawrence became the latest Jamaican discus throwers to secure the Olympic Games qualifying mark.
Knibb, representing Florida State, threw 61.44m, a new Jamaican record, for second in the NCAA outdoors discus final while Lawrence of Kansas State recorded 61.18m for fourth place.
Both athletes joined Tarasue Barnett, who had earlier surpassed the qualifying mark of 61 metres with 61.28m in May.
Knibb said: “I am extremely proud, but at the same time I’m kind of disappointed because all it really took was one throw and I had several chances.”
“I’m still happy that I went out there and laid it all out there on the field,” said the former St. Jago student.
“That was definitely the best competition she has faced, by far, ever,” Knibb’s coach at FSU Dorian Scott said.
“She showed good mental toughness; she showed she was ready to give her best when the pressure was at the highest. It’s what I expect out of her. We’ve been undefeated all season under all types of crazy circumstances. I expected her to perform big and she showed me what she does,” added Scott, a former Jamaica shot putter.
Florida State coach Bob Braman heaped high praise on Knibb.
“Kellion was a warrior today,” Braman said. “She is the best field event battler we've had since Kimmi Williams. She wasn't going to go quietly.”
Lawrence, on social media, expressed joy at securing the qualifying mark. “Firstly thank you Jesus, I'm now believing that I have the potential to be good,” she posted.
“What a freshman year, Olympic qualifier 61.18m for fourth at the NCAA championship. Thank you coach Greg Watson you are amazing and I mean it! Thanks to my friends and my family I love you all,” she added.
Michael Vassell, one of Jamaica’s top throws coaches, weighed in on the development, which will see three Jamaican discus throwers at the Olympic Games for the first time.
“This means that this sprint crazy nation now has 3 incredible young ladies that have qualified for the Olympics. Historic is a small word to use,” he said. “We have come a looooong way and it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. Congrats and thanks to your coaches for enabling this to happen,” he wrote on his social media page.
All three athletes, however, will have to compete at the Jamaica Championships set for June 30 to July 3. The trio are the only ones so far with the qualifying mark, which means regardless of the positions at trials, they will be in Rio if no one else hits the 61m mark.