Imperfect record-breaking Heptathlon was as sweet as it was bitter for Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens

By May 20, 2021

Strange as it may sound, Tyra Gittens is both happy and disappointed with her record-breaking performance in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships at Bryan College Station in Texas last weekend.

The 22-year-old Trinidadian who attends Texas A&M University scored a personal best 6418 points to win the two-day event. Her score which was just two points off the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420 points is also a championship-leading effort as well as a meet and facility record. 

“I am proud of where I am. I am proud of my accomplishments. I hope the world sees that I have so much potential and I have so much more room to grow. This is just the beginning,” she said.

Along the way, Gittens achieved several personal milestones, including a massive personal lifetime best in the long jump of 6.96, which qualifies her for the Olympics this summer and a personal best and a national record 1.95m for the high jump and a centimetre shy of the Olympic standard.

It was also the first time in history that a woman had jumped 1.95m in the high jump and beyond 6.95m in the long jump in the same heptathlon. Gittens now holds national records for the high jump outdoors and indoors, the long jump outdoors and indoors, the pentathlon and the heptathlon.

However, she wasn’t satisfied and revealed her true ambitions, believing she is capable of so much more.

“I don’t like to talk about my goals publicly because then people take it as ‘Oh, she’s trying to talk smack’ but I want people to hold me accountable when I say this. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete and that means breaking Jackie Joyner’s record and that’s what I’m going for.

 “This is my first time saying that publicly but I have never been at a point in my life when I’ve felt so confident saying that, and after this weekend, even though my heptathlon wasn’t what I wanted, my mentality and how I pushed through one of the hardest weekends but one of the best weekends of my life, I am ready and I know, I really think I can get this world record.”

 It is that lofty goal and it is the accompanying mentality that has her experiencing mixed feelings about her record-breaking weekend. Joyner-Kersee’s heptathlon record, which has stood since 1988, is 7291 points and it explains why Gittens wasn’t so happy with her performance last weekend because she understands that if she is to break that record, she has to be better at all her disciplines, not just two or three.

 “The long jump and the high jump were the highlights of my meet. I rarely surprise myself but I definitely surprised myself in the long jump,” she the Texas A&M senior said.

 “The high jump wasn’t necessarily a surprise. I knew this is where I wanted to be around this time. In the long jump, I didn’t expect to reach 6.90 so soon. I know I could do it, I knew I could be up there but I was thinking later on in my career, like years later.”

However, as good as she was in the long and high jumps, Gitten concedes that her performance in several other disciplines did not meet her expectations and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

 “The shot put definitely hurt me, just because of how inconsistent it was. It was embarrassing for me to come off such a high in the high jump, not to be able to gather myself correctly for the shot put. I thought I did but I still had a lot of adrenalin and excitement from the high jump and it never allowed me to focus on the shot put and it just didn’t click,” she said of her 658-point 11.96m throw that was well short of her 13.58m throw that earned her 807 points in a heptathlon on May 8.

 She was equally devastated by how poor she was in the 800m that she completed in 2:31.97 and which she said came as a shock.

 “The 800 was a surprise. I did not expect to run that slow. I started the race and normally I have someone yelling my 100m splits but this time there were two events going on so my coach wasn’t able to so he put some people to say the times. I didn’t hear them and so I was kind of running blindly and it wasn’t until the last 150 when I saw the finish-line time board and I saw that I was way behind my pace,” she said.

“I honestly started tearing up running down the straightaway because I knew I didn’t set myself up in the other events like the shot put and the hurdles, even though my long jump and high jump were great, the Hep was not very consistent for me.” 

Such is the mentality of the effervescent Trinidadian that she has chosen to focus on the silver lining rather than dwell on the dark clouds.

 “That being said, everything happens for a reason. I was very impressed with myself that my hep was a pretty bad one. The things that saved me, the high jump, my 200 and long jump because everything else was not where I wanted to be at all,” she confessed, “the hurdles, shot put, javelin even though it was PB in the Hep for me, I see myself a little farther along than 40 metres. The 800 definitely broke my heart.”

She was devastated to come so close to the Olympic standard. 

“Being only two points away from the standard is definitely tough to swallow because it was just two points and I knew what I needed to do but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It happened. I came out with an Olympic standard and literally kissing the other standards,” she said. 

“I am on pace. I knew my open events would come before my Hep because it is a lot harder to put together than get one jump. I am not worried. I am not stressing. I am actually above my pace for what I want to do and the next Hep is going to be bigger and better because I am going to come in ready to be more consistent and ready to stay focused. 

“I want to shine. I want to be the ultimate heptathlete, meaning I want to be consistently good, amazing in some (events) and consistently good in others. I would love to be a Jackie Joyner and be amazing at all seven but that’s not my reality, so you have to take advantage of what you’re really good at and then you have to work and stay focused on what you’re not so gifted in.”

 Gittens also finished second in the individual high jump, clearing 1.89m. She was also fourth in the long jump with a 6.56m leap. For her efforts, she was named United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week.

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper inks three-year deal as TruShake brand ambassador Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper inks three-year deal as TruShake brand ambassador

    Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper has signed a three-year deal to become the newest brand ambassador for TruShake.

    Tapper, the first woman from the Caribbean to win a medal in an Olympic 100m hurdles final, today formalized the agreement which takes effect from October 2021 and will run through to September 2024. Tapper finished third behind Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and the USA's Kendra Harrison in her history-making run in Tokyo in August.

    “It means the world to me that I was chosen to represent the brand. It’s a great partnership. TruShake is a fairly new product in Jamaica and I am entering a new phase in my journey as an Olympic athlete. I am looking forward to us growing together,” said an excited Tapper after putting her signature to the deal at Funland Jamaica.

    TruSHAKE is Trade Winds Citrus Limited’s locally manufactured milk-based nutrition shake developed for all ages and lifestyles. Tapper admits that TruShake is a great addition to her meal plan.

    “Sometimes I do not feel like eating a heavy meal; it feels good to be able to have an affordable option that is healthy and tasty,” she said. “At times, I feel like whenever I eat healthily, I am sacrificing taste but that’s not the case with TruShake. So, it’s a great addition to my meal plan.”

    Marketing Manager of Tradewinds Citrus, Lauren Mahfood explained that Tapper is a perfect fit for their brand. “Like most Jamaicans, we witnessed Megan’s outstanding talent at the Olympics this year and we were extremely proud of her performance on the world stage,” she said.

    “Her infectious energy and incredible character made it clear that she was an all-around winner – a perfect fit for the TruShake brand.”

    Tapper, who is also a motivational speaker, uses her platform to inspire young girls and women to seize the moment and to dream big. She explained that she will use this opportunity as TruShake’s brand ambassador, to continue her work to motivate and encourage Jamaicans to eat and live healthy so they can achieve their optimum physical goals.

     “Megan is an incredible ambassador for Jamaica and as a Jamaican brand, we look forward to seeing her compete locally and internationally, representing with passion and focus as always,” said Mahfood.

    Tapper will be looking to be on the podium once more at the 2022 and 2023 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and Budapest, Hungary, respectively as well as the lucrative Diamond League circuit before she aims for another Olympic medal in Paris in 2024.

  • Juniors respond to JOA's call to next month's Junior Pan-American Games Juniors respond to JOA's call to next month's Junior Pan-American Games

    Jamaica will be represented in several sports at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games which is scheduled to take place in the city of Cali in Colombia between November 25 and December 5, 2021.

    Responding to the call made by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) earlier this year, several juniors from the so-called "smaller sports" dedicated their efforts in qualifying and have now earned a coveted place at the historic games.

    Among those sports, whose athletes will don the black green and gold national colours in Cali, are Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Artistic Gymnastics, Fencing, Badminton Triathlon, Tennis, Cycling (Track), Skateboarding and Squash.

    In commending the commitment of member associations and the nation's juniors, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, said: "Our associations and federations and their juniors have responded positively and with national pride to the JOA's Cali call to action for it will be for us, 'business unusual' in Cali and for them, it will be 'signed, sealed and delivered."

    The JOA boss, in expressing a well-known policy of the national governing body, further stated "the JOA is giving our young sportsmen and women every opportunity to transition and be more than gold medalists - to be standard-bearers. The JOA subscribes to this ideal and Cali is certainly embracing it."

    The number of local sports that will feature at the multi-sport junior games is indeed a record for the JOA and is being interpreted by its Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, as "a clear signal that the JOA's strategy of diversification is working well and that our members are inspiring their junior athletes to be history-makers and to strive for excellence."

    With the Santiago 2023 Senior Pan-American Games and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games only two and three years away respectively, the JOA views the Cali games as a critical milestone. Secretary-General Foster, in giving the context, was unequivocal. "Cali is a dress rehearsal for our juniors. If you want to be at the senior shows, you have to, from now, dress for the shows, study the scripts and be able to deliver yourself on the big stages."

    The stage lights in Cali will soon be turned on to spotlight over 3,800 athletes from the Caribbean and Americas - north, central and south -who will compete across 315 events in 28 sports and "Jamaica will be their centre stage and the objective is to have a leading role in this historic event," President Samuda said.

  • Tokyo Olympics: AIU to investigate Belarus coaches over Tsimanouskaya saga Tokyo Olympics: AIU to investigate Belarus coaches over Tsimanouskaya saga

    The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is to investigate allegations that two Belarus coaches tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to board a flight home from the Tokyo Olympics.

    Tsimanouskaya claimed Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich took her to the airport against her will after she criticised the coaches on social media.

    The 24-year-old finished fourth in her 100 metres heat, before being pulled out of the Games by Belarusian officials.

    Due to also compete in the 200m, she claimed a Belarusian coach entered her for the 4x400m relay despite her never having raced in the event before.

    Tsimanouskaya said she did not feel safe returning to her homeland amid a crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed election.

    She flew to Warsaw rather than Belarus after being granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. 

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) revoked Shimak and Maisevichas' accreditation in August after launching an investigation into the saga.

    The IOC and World Athletics on Thursday revealed that the AIU will look into the matter.

    World Athletics and the IOC stated: "Further to the incident involving Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the decision taken by the IOC to cancel and remove the accreditations of the two coaches, Messrs A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich, as a provisional measure during the Games, the IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches. 

    "To this effect, and given that the Olympic Games have now concluded, it has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics – will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC. 

    "The AIU will publish the outcome of its investigation when this has been finalised."

     

Popular Athletics News

Error: No articles to display

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.