High Jumper Shelves Retirement Plans Ahead Of Tokyo Olympics

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By Neto Baptiste

National high-jumper Priscilla Loomis (formerly Frederick) has, for now, sidelined plans to retire from competition and has set her eyes on representing Antigua and Barbuda at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The US-based athlete, who spoke on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show recently, first made the pronouncement via Facebook, stating that a number of factors contributed to her decision to keep competing at the international level.

“A lot of things happened actually, but it was more of me shifting my focus – I guess you can call it maturity or growth or just realising that I’ve come this far and I’ve sacrificed so much. A lot of things have changed in my life, but sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper, and I felt after world champs, not being able to get that opportunity to represent Antigua and to represent what I worked so hard to do for that year, it definitely knocked me down,” she said.

The Pan Am Games silver medallist went on to add that having missed the 2019 World Championships in athletics served as an eye opener and that she was forced to make a number of difficult changes.

“A lot of things have changed. I’ve had to find a new coach; I’ve had to move out of the state, away from my husband and my family and on my own. I’ve seen so many other people retire when I believe they were at their highest and sometimes you just have to do it for other people and find a different motivation. So this time around, as much as I am doing it for myself, I want to do it for those athletes who couldn’t take any more punches,” the she said.

As for her chances of qualifying for the 24th July to 9th August 2020 Olympic Games, Loomis explained that that standard of 1.91 meters is attainable but that the system has somewhat changed.

“Right now, it’s based off of a points system, so if you go to a meet and you place top three, depending on how that meet is ranked A through F, is how you get your points. I actually moved down in the world rankings even though I have jumped better than some people because of the meets that I went to so now it’s pretty much, in a way, a game of chess of trying to get into better A meets so that my world ranking would rise. As far as qualifying for the Olympics, I have to clear 1.96 [meters] and so right now I have a meet pretty much every weekend,” she said. To date, no Antiguan track athlete has qualified for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

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