IT wasn’t a meet record at the ninth staging of the Velocity Fest at National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, but the 62.60m thrown by Kai Chang was certainly the best performance among the field events.
When most other senior athletes were struggling to get things right in the blustery conditions in the early morning, Chang was joining a special club in his particular discipline.
Beginning the day with a personal best of 57.80m, the 21-year-old eclipsed that mark with only his second throw of the day, entering the 60m club with 60.84m, before extending his new personal best to 62.60m with his third.
His penultimate throw of the day was also over 60m, as he got a mark of 61.80m to show that he was well and truly a 60m man.
Chang believes that overcoming injuries and a more-tailored training programme were the keys to his successful early season performance.
“I believe that overcoming injuries and developing a training plan that works for me has led to this improvement.
“Because I’m the tallest athlete Coach Robinson has ever coached, my preparation slightly defers from that of his other athletes — so it took some time to find the right footing for me,” he said.
He also admitted to being overcome with emotion when he finally hit the 60m mark on Saturday.
“I was overwhelmed with emotions when I threw the 62m during the competition, to be honest. Tears came to my eyes after my third throw. It felt like I was meant to be in that distance range for a while now but injuries held me back, so being able to throw two 60m throws in my first three attempts brought me to tears.”
Besides the magnitude of the personal accomplishment, hitting the 60m mark has also lit a fire inside the former Calabar standout thrower as he can now dream of gaining a spot on the Tokyo Olympic Games squad.
“Making national teams has always been my goal since I’ve been a junior. Naturally I’d want to go to the Olympic Games — which as you know is the pinnacle of athletics excellence — and throwing 62.6m puts me 3.4m away from the qualifying standard so it gives me hope that I can qualify and place well at trials to make the team.”
He believes that gaining the new personal best inside the National Stadium validates his performance and will provide inspiration for when he returns in June for his Olympic qualification bid.
“Also, throwing the 62m in the stadium makes it a more credible mark as well as puts me in a better place going into trials, knowing that this is where I got my PB [personal best] and this is where the trials will be hosted.”
Training with some of the nation’s best throwers has also helped tremendously with his growth, the 2018 World Under-20 gold medallist revealed.
“Iron sharpens iron as Coach [Julian] Robinson would say. Training with Traves [Smikle], Basil [Bingham] and Fedrick [Dacres] has instilled in me a competitive nature as well as nerves of steel, and I think this will have a positive carry-over into my future competitions as a senior,” Chang said.
With the Olympic standard now within touching distance, Chang will be-laser focused on his 2021 target.
“The qualifying mark is 66m so naturally I aim to attain that mark, because my aim is to qualify for the Olympics.”
Those three throws over 60m on Saturday are sure to inspire Chang at training as he continues to dream the ultimate Olympic dream.