Lamara Distin and Ackelia Smith secure spots for Paris Olympics

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Lamara Distin of Texas A&M University secured her spot at the Paris Olympics on the opening day of the Jamaica Olympic trials at the National Stadium on Thursday.

The three-time NCAA champion won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 1.89m, marking her first Olympic qualification. This victory also earned the 24-year-old her third national title.

Distin entered the trials following a stellar final season with the Aggies, during which she claimed her fifth SEC title and set a new NCAA indoor record by clearing 2.00m, a new Jamaican record.

Charity Huffnagel of the USA finished second with a jump of 1.89m. Huffnagel, a senior from Indiana, aimed to meet the Olympic standard before the June 30 deadline but fell short of the required 1.97m and will not represent the USA in Paris. She had won the gold medal at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on Monday, with a career-best jump of 1.94m, which also fell short of the Olympic standard, hence her reason for travelling to Jamaica.

Ackelia Smith lands in the pit during the women’s long jump. (PHOTO: Marlon Reid).

Meanwhile, Ackelia Smith continued her impressive form in the long jump, leaping 6.53m to win her second national title in three years.

The 6.53-metre jump was the only legal attempt for the University of Texas at Austin junior, and it came on her third try.

Smith has yet to meet the Olympic standard of 6.86 metres, with her best effort to date being 6.85 metres, achieved at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic on February 2, falling one centimetre short.

However, the Olympic standard is one of two ways an athlete can qualify for Paris. The other method is through the World Athletics ranking. Based on her ranking at No. 12 on the World Athletics toplists with her 6.85-metre jump, Smith should secure her spot at her first Olympics.

“For one, I definitely wanted a better series of jumps. I didn’t get that, but I did get the national title, which is a big honor and I’m thankful for that,” Smith said. “Most of my jumps were huge, but the marker was off, so I’ll have to work on that and come back when it really matters.”

Chanice Porter, who finished second last year, retained her position with a jump of 6.49m. Last year’s champion, Tissanna Hickling, placed third with 6.36m, edging out Velecia Williams of the University of Nebraska on a countback.