Tyra Gittens was in superb form on the first two days of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Texas, USA. Gittens struck gold in the women’s heptathlon, breaking Trinidad and Tobago records in the hep, high jump and long jump in the process.
One of the key ingredients to success for the Texas A&M University student was family support.
"It meant the world to me,” Gittens told Texas newspaper, The Eagle. “I'm the sixth of seven kids and my parents have never missed any one of our sports events or recitals. When COVID happened and they weren't able to come to the big meets, it was definitely sad. I know how much they wanted to come and I know how much I love seeing them in the stands. They are the wind under my wings.”
T&T-born Gittens is the daughter of Trinidadian singer/songwriter Sterling Gittens and his wife Debra.
“My siblings, they surprised me. I knew my parents were coming. Seeing them and then the shirts, it was overwhelming, but they gave me energy. They give me energy. They are the best support system anyone could ever ask for.
“Seeing them in the stands,” talented Tyra continued, “and my mom, I'm pretty sure you heard her. Every time I hear her, I'm like let's go. Let's put on a show. It wasn't everything that I wanted, but I couldn't ask for a better SEC so far."
On Thursday and Friday, Gittens accumulated 6,418 points in the heptathlon—just two points shy of the 6,420 Olympic qualifying standard. The 22-year-old cleared 1.95 metres in the hep high jump—a mere one centimetre short of the 1.96 required for automatic qualification for the Tokyo Games. In the hep long jump, however, she went well past the 6.82m Olympic qualifying mark, disturbing the sand at 6.96.
Gittens was also on show late on Friday in the individual 100 metres hurdles and long jump events. The T&T athlete produced a wind-aided leap of 6.56m to finish fourth in the long jump, and also had a legal jump of 6.46. She was a non-finisher in her 100 hurdles preliminary round heat. Gittens was listed for action after press time, yesterday, in the individual high jump.
Cherisse Murray finished just off the podium in Friday’s women’s shot put. The University of Alabama student was fourth with a 16.59 metres throw.
University of Kentucky quartermiler Dwight St Hillaire clocked 45.27 seconds to win heat one in the men’s 400m, qualifying for the final third fastest. Alabama’s Joshua Jacob St Clair was 16th overall in 47.25, and did not progress to the championship race. St Hillaire was drawn in lane seven for the final, which was contested after press time, yesterday.
Akanni Hislop was eliminated in the men’s 100m dash. The Louisiana State University (LSU) sprinter clocked 10.59 seconds to finish fifth in heat three and 17th overall.