Good signs for Lawrence in discus
Before 2021, no Jamaican woman had ever reached the final of the discus at a major championship. Shadae Lawrence made the breakthrough last year at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, and now with the World Championships to come in July, she wants a medal.
The 26-year-old Lawrence has already thrown the discus 63.94 metres this year and stands at number four on the 2022 world performance list. There is a formidable trio ahead of her, Tokyo winner Valerie Allman of the USA, Croatia’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic, and reigning world champion Yaime Perez of Cuba.
Nevertheless, her focus now is to make the Jamaican team to the World Championships and to finish on the podium. “I definitely want a medal. I know I can do it, and I’m really working towards it. So that’s what’s next for me,” she said, quietly and with conviction, last Saturday.
In the face of difficult conditions inside the National Stadium, she had just won at the Velocity Fest with a distance of 62.36 metres. She glowed with a bright smile when she stepped out of the circle for the last time, pleased with a job well done under trying circumstances.
“I was having a bit of discomfort due to the rain and my shoes, I wasn’t really connecting with the ring. I’m still impressed that I could get almost all my throws over 61m, so that’s impressive,” she evaluated.
The winning throw came on the back of a week of heavy weightlifting administered by coach Julian Robinson.
“The day before yesterday,” Lawrence detailed, “when we had tests, I was telling coach that I felt extremely tired because the weight programme is so long, so that to know that I’m doing this right now and despite the conditions, it’s a good sign.”
Lawrence threw at the 2016 Olympics during her sojourn at Kansas State University, where she won an NCAA title before finishing her eligibility at Colorado State, where she set a Jamaican record of 67.05 metres. Her Olympic success came after she began a long-distance coaching relationship with Robinson, and now she is part of the same local training group as 2019 World silver medal winner Fedrick Dacres. “I came in September,” she recalled, “I’m seeing the improvements, the consistency, so I don’t regret the decision.”
Her Tokyo achievement and her presence at home is inspiring younger discus throwers. Among them is Damali Williams, who won the silver in Class One at Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships for Edwin Allen High School.
“I admire her a lot”, the youngster said in February. Asked to pinpoint why she admires Lawrence, Williams listed “her dedication, her hard work, and also her drive to succeed”.
Lawrence has already surpassed the World Championships qualifying mark of 63.50m, but that doesn’t mean she will be taking a casual approach to the Jamaican Championships in June. “I don’t take any meet for granted,” she asserted.