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19
Mon, Aug

Andwuelle Wright from Signal Hill jumps his way to a new national men's long jump record at the 2018 NGC/Sagicor National Open Championships at the Hasely Crawford stadium in Port of Spain, last year. PHOTO BY ANDRE DE GANNES

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NATIONAL men’s long jumper Andwuelle Wright has faced some adversity in his life, but the Tobagonian uses it as his driving force to make further leaps in the sport.

On Friday, Wright broke his own national men’s long jump record with a huge effort of 8.25m at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Under-23 Championships.

That effort means Wright is tied for fifth place among the world’s leading long jumpers in 2019. Leading the way this year is American Jeff Henderson with a 8.38m performance.

The achievement by Wright booked him a spot at the 2019 World Championships and he also met the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying standard. Wright’s leap also broke the NACAC games record of 8.03m, previously held by Cuban Wilfredo Martinez since 2006.

The road to success was not always smooth for the 21-year-old, as he endured injury and the death of his number one supporter.

Discussing his transition from a junior to a senior athlete, Wright said, “The transition has not been the best for me because my last year as a junior (a couple years ago) I injured my back at the Carifta trials and could not compete for the year, so that took a toll on me. Then my mom died in 2014 from cancer, that also took a toll on me so it was just (about) staying focussed with the progress and just believing.”

Wright said his mother is constantly close to him.

“(She is) always (in my mind). When I go to compete I always go with her in my mind. I still wear her wedding ring, so that just goes to show how much she is with we still.”

Wright said it will be special to win a World Championship or an Olympic medal for his mother. “For her it will be great, because I know she will be watching down on me and saying, ‘my son win.’ Back when I was in Carifta and she was supporting me, although she could not have been there she would have been either on a live stream or watching it on the TV celebrating. As I finish jumping and I reach back in the hotel room I would get a call.”

Wright has been competing in long jump since 2011, but has been involved in track and field since he was eight. Wright said he participated in various events as a youngster, but decided to channel his energy into long jump as it was his strongest event.

Wright does not have to look far to find inspiration, as the person he works with on a daily basis is one of his role models.

“My coach (Wendell Williams) is always a role model to me knowing what he came from as a boy growing up in Marabella. His story inspires me a lot. I also look up to Carl Lewis (and) Ivan Pedroso. Not just in track and field alone (I have role models), I look up to Cristiano Ronaldo (because) I am a big football fan. Knowing where these guys came from that pushes me a lot.”

Wright and Williams share a close relationship, often teasing each other on who is the best long jumper. Williams represented TT at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and held the national long jump record of 8.14m from 1999 - 2018. At the 2018 NGC/Sagicor National Open Championships at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Wright broke his coach’s record with an 8.23m effort, before breaking his own record last week.

Laughing, Wright said, “I always heckle him because I will be like ‘I am the man now, you don’t have any power in your legs.’ He will be like, ‘you skinny’ and I will say, ‘this skinny legs mash up that record.’ It is a good feeling knowing that I am coached by the past record holder and knowing my record still lives on in him because he is somebody who instil (that talent) in me to break the record.”

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