(Photo Credit: Todd VanSickle, BVI Beacon) Chantel Malone, in winners row, center, is joined on the podium by the USA Kethurah Ojiri, left, silver medalist and Jamaica Tissanna Hickling, who earned bronze
LIMA, Peru—Four years after a medal slipped from her grasp in the final round of competition in Toronto, Long Jumper Chantel Malone buried the field on her first attempt, to win the BVI’s first Pan Am Games medal in its 36-year history, on the opening day of track and field in Estadio Nacional, in Lima, Peru.
Malone, No 14 on the 2019 IAAF list and the No 3 listed jumper in the Americas, sailed through the chilled air, then cut the sand at 6.68m (21’11”), a mark none of her 13 pursuers would surpass.
The USA’s Keturah Orji would come closest at 6.66m for silver while Jamaica’s Tissanna Hickling earned bronze with 6.59m.
“This is amazing,” Malone said. “We know how the season started with a great bang and then I hand an injury, been up and down, with performances and trying to figure things out. And, to come here and come out with the gold, that means everything to me.”
She said after her opening jump, in her mind she wanted to go further but as it got colder and colder—with temperatures dipping to 59 degrees—it became harder.
Malone explained that her thought process heading into the competition was not to focus on what happened in the past nor anyone else.
“Coach and I were talking and he said ‘you need to be a Dog from the get go and let people chase you and you don’t chase them,’” she pointed out.
“Normally, I would do good as I progress, but honestly, I just went out there, trusted the process and tried to execute and that’s the result that came.”
Malone said she’s happy with her performance which she hopes will inspire other young athletes.
“Winning gold is a big deal,” she said. “It lets the world know that the BVI is there. We’re small, but we have a lot of talent and I’m just happy to be an ambassador for my country.”
After jumping a world leading 6.90m at the time then getting a hamstring injury, her coach, Olympic and World Championships gold medalist Dwight Phillips, said he was grateful Malone was able to come out victorious. He said they had been working on hitting the World Championships standard of 6.75m on the first jump an improvement she has been making.
“The conditions were quite cold, not the best conditions, but she has been able to come out victorious,” said Phillip, an Olympic champion Long Jumper and four times IAAF World champion.
“I have my first medalist in the Pan Am Games and I’m grateful for that,” he said. “It’s more rewarding coaching someone to a gold than actually winning the gold medal myself.”
BVI Olympic Committee President Ephraim Penn, said he knew that BVI has the caliber of athletes to win a Pan Am title, but didn’t know who’d do it first.
“Chantel came through in flying colors,” he said. “Looks like every time we win our first medal, it has to be a gold,” he said referring to the Central American and Commonwealth Games. “I know everyone at home is proud of this moment—this is a special moment for the BVI. We’re making major breakthroughs after our first Commonwealth and Pan Am Games medals and next year, maybe the first Olympic medal.”
Thad Lettsome got in two more Laser races in Paracas yesterday and continues today. He’s currently 19th overall in the fleet.