Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
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Smith needs to step up big time to repeat Osaka heroics
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer

Decathlete Maurice Smith. - file

TWO years ago, Jamaica got an unlikely medal at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka when former Calabar High School athlete, Maurice Smith, produced a career-best 8,644 points to take the silver medal in the decathlon.

Smith surprised many track and field pundits by medalling in this two-day event and next month he will be hoping to repeat or better that performance, despite not being at his very best so far this season.

When he won silver two years ago he was very unfortunate not to get the gold as he took the lead after the third event, the shot put, and held it with two events to go on the final day. With the javelin and 1500 metres to go he had a 111-point lead over his nearest rival, but after competing with an injured hand for the entire meet it got worse during the throwing of the javelin. It affected him seriously as he lost his lead and trailed by 44 points. Despite giving his best in the final event, the 1500 metres, he failed to get enough points to take back the lead as he lost by 32 points to the Czech Republic's world record holder Roman Sebrle.

One of the early-season favourites for the gold medal, American Brian Clay, will be a no-show in Berlin as injury forced him out of his National Championships.

If Smith is able to repeat his showing of two years ago he can get among the medals. Cuba's Leonel Suarez, with 8654 points, is the world leader going into the championships. This is only 10 points better than the Jamaican's personal best and if he can peak at the right time he should challenge for a medal. With his season best of 8,157 points garnered in Kledno in June of this year, Smith, who is ranked number 11 going into the Championships, will have to step up his performance big time.

After coming so close to the top in Osaka, it is not beyond the Jamaican this time around. Although he is not ranked among the top three so far this year, once he remains injury-free during the championships he could surprise once again and give Jamaica its second medal at these championships in this challenging combined event.

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