07 January, 2020

Doha Diamond: Tajay Gayle

They called Tajay Gayle a shock, a bolt from the blue.

But those who watched Jamaica’s first field world champion jump at the Muller Anniversary Games wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at what he did at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Gayle is the latest in our series of #DohaDiamonds - spotlighting those who lorded it over London and then did the business in Doha.

Originally a high jumper

It took a wet high jump mat for Gayle to realise his future was written in the sand. He jumped 7.29m off the cuff when rain stopped him training, and picked the pit permanently.

Born in inner-city Kingston, he came close to a debut on the global stage in London but narrowly missed the qualifying standard for the 2017 World Championships.

His career took off – literally – in 2018, narrowly missing out on a medal at the Commonwealth Games and establishing himself on the Diamond League circuit.

Gayle won his first Diamond League contest in Rabat in July 2018, leaping 8.09 before setting two lifetime marks inside a month in Switzerland and Canada.

At his best in Britain

The 23-year-old shows a penchant for performing in front of a British crowd, taking to the Alexander Stadium runway and relishing the closeness of the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham crowd. 

He posted an impressive 8.17, giving reigning world champion Luvo Manyonga a run for his money.

Gayle opted for a long 2019 season, coming out to compete in mid-April, and his standards remarkably remained high throughout.

The gangly competitor was never better than at the Muller Anniversary Games, gracing the iconic international meet in a loaded field that featured Manyonga and Rushwahl Samaai.

Gayle went out to 8.05 at the first attempt, joining the South African duo at beyond eight metres at the first time of asking.

Then came a massive leap in the third round, 8.32, a lifetime best achieved incredibly against a significant headwind.

"I'm happy with the personal best," he said after the competition. "The win didn't really matter to me as from training, I didn't expect this."

Fans that flocked to the London Stadium for the annual meet saw that Gayle was in the mood to do something special when September came around.

Global glory

That’s exactly what he did. The pattern was similar, a significant first round marker of 8.46 signalling his intent just as he did in London.

Once again Gayle’s glory leap came mid-competition as he soared all of 8.69 in the fourth round, barely breaking stride out of the pit or waiting for the white flag to celebrate. 

You name it, he broke it. It was a clear Jamaican record, the best jump for a decade and the tenth best all-time.

He launched a Shooting Stars meme, and turned a sprint-mad nation’s attention onto the field for more than a moment. But a shock? Never.

Catch Olympic champions before they’re crowned at next year’s Muller Anniversary Games, the meet forming the perfect send-off for the British team before they head to Tokyo.

Tickets are now available for both days of the IAAF Diamond League meet HERE.