Twenty-three year old long-jumper, Tajay Gayle, was always destined for great things.
That’s according to two women who helped to shape the IAAF World Champion into the man and athlete he is today.
They are his mother, Naloney Linton, and his high school coach, Shanikie Osbourne.
Gayle wowed the world on Saturday, when his winning jump set a new national record and became the longest jump in 10-years.
His mother says she always knew he had the potential, that she along with his coach, helped to nurture.
Before Saturday, Tajay Gayle, who grew up in the often volatile community of August Town, was a virtual unknown on the world stage.
Even the television announcers couldn’t get the pronunciation of his first name right.
The 22-year-old, who is now a wolrd beater, had an unremarkable junior career, finishing 26th of 28 contestants in the 2014 edition of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships.
In the 2015 edition of Champs, Gayle secured a top 8 finish in the decathalon.
Even at this year’s World Championships, much wasn’t expected of the man who qualified for the long jump finals in 12th of 12 spots.
But, on Saturday it took just four jumps for the world to take notice of Tajay Gayle.
On his fourth jump in the finals, Gayle jumped 8.69 meters, the longest wind legal jump in the last 10 years.
Gayle’s mother, Ms. Linton, says jumping was all her son ever did.
His coach, Ms Osbourne, says from the first time she saw Gayle at Papine High School’s sports day, she realised she had a star in the making.
He was in grade 9.
Ms. Osbourne says because of difficulties with facilities at Tajay’s high school, he often trained at the University of Technology, UTech, where he was spotted by coaching guru, Stephen Francis.
That’s where he flourished.
Ms. Osbourne says Tajay is a disciplined athlete who’s easy to coach.
For that reason, Coach Osbourne and Tajay’s mother partnered, to ensure the young long jumper made the most of his talent.