LONDON, England — Fresh off his first taste of serious international competition at the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London yesterday, 20-year-old discus thrower Traves Smikle has a big decision to take that will affect his immediate future as an athlete and a student.
The talented left-hander, who created history for Jamaica when he won a bronze medal at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Italy in 2009, the island's first medal in a throwing event in a global Championships, is weighing offers from the University of the West Indies, Mona, and the University of Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia.
Smikle, who was 20th overall with a 61.85m effort whole going head-to-head with defending champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia, and back-to-back IAAF world champion Robert Harting of Germany, said that while he is enjoying the Olympic experience, he had some serious thinking to do once he gets back home.
Smikle took a year off between completing his junior career and deciding to go to college to prepare for the Olympics, and said the experience has been a tremendous one. "The Olympic experience has been good and I can't wait for the next four years when I know I will be properly prepared and ready," he told the Jamaica Observer.
The decisions he will have to weigh, he said, is whether to stay home and continue to work with his coach Julian Robinson, who has revolutionised throwing in Jamaica, starting at the junior level with almost next to nothing in terms of funding or facilities. Or attend college in America, which would give him access to world-class facilities and regular top-level competition without having to worry about how to get to them.
"I am thinking through a lot of stuff right now," Smikle said, adding that if he opts to stay in Jamaica, he would have to "manage my time properly and see where I will fit in with timely competition and getting good meets".
The US College system is designed to give him weekly competition against people on the same level or better. "I need top-class competition on a regular basis to help me improve," he said.