January 2024 Volume 20

I cried, I cried, I cried -Hibbert’s Mom over the moon after Budapest disappointment

Reprinted from Jamaica Gleaner
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AGAIN, THE tears flowed uncontrollably from Tanesha Powell as she witnessed her son, Jaydon Hibbert, making history on Thursday in Denver, Colorado, USA, when he was named 2023’s Bowerman award winner.

With this achievement, Hibbert became the first local to receive the prestigious collegiate accolade, which is akin to the Heisman Trophy in American football.

Powell, a mother of two, could only watch from behind her laptop as her golden boy, the World Under-20 triple jump champion and record holder, collected his prize during a ceremony at the US Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association Convention (USTFCCCA).

The landmark moment came almost four months after Powell, 40, her teenage sensation, and millions of Jamaicans near and far, suffered heartbreak when the former Kingston College man was injured and forced to withdraw from the triple jump final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.

The disappointment was immense. But now, according to the dedicated mother, joy has overwhelmed her.

“I cried, I cried, I cried. And I couldn’t sleep, even right now I still don’t want to sleep. I really don’t know how to explain my feelings right now,” said the elated mother, during a telephone interview with Sunday Gleaner Sports.

She continued; “because of the disappointment of Budapest, that disappointment is like a comeback. Like God saying that ‘Don’t ever give up. I make decisions, I set the time and when it’s your time, it’s your time’. “Apparently in Budapest, we really don’t know what happened, so we just have to say it’s God’s will. But Jaydon said this made up for Budapest and I agree with him one hundred per cent. You fail some, while you gain some. In life, we have to learn to accept disappointments and move on and go again. Jaydon has been going in the discipline since he was a child.”

Powell, who recently completed an associate degree in medical administration at Monroe College in the Bronx, New York, also added that; “following Budapest, we cried together because it wasn’t easy to know that you have something in your hands and just throw it away.”

Leading up to Budapest, the 18-year-old was in sensational form.

The confident Fortis entered the finals with the longest jump of 17.70m in the preliminaries and held the world lead of 17.87m.

All appeared to be in line for Hibbert to strike gold and become the first Jamaican man to win in the triple jump at the global level.

However, Hibbert aborted his first attempt in the final, grabbing the back of his right leg. The angst spread quickly throughout the stadium, which was defined by the look of heartbreak on the young and confident jumper.

But, “this achievement just take away the bad memories from what he had in Budapest,” said Powell, before revealing that she was cautiously optimistic about the possibilities of her son winning the noble award.

“I didn’t want to be too sure, because I was so sure sitting in the stands at Budapest that my son was going to get that gold medal. And I went in the bathroom, went on the ground and start to pray saying ‘Why God? I don’t want to question you, but why?’. So last night I called him and said, ‘Jaydon listen to me, go with an open mind. This is America, you are a Jamaican. Go with an open mind. Look for anything, if you don’t get it, don’t feel the same way as how you felt in Budapest’. He looked into it and said to me that I was right,” remarked the joyous mother.

Powell said she believed her son had an “80 per cent chance of winning” because “he had done so many unexplainable things” throughout the season.

“It would have been so biased if he didn’t get it, in my opinion,” she said.

In the past year, golden boy Hibbert added the NCAA outdoor title to his indoor championship win when he jumped to a world U20 record of 17.87m at the SEC Championships in Baton Rogue, on May 13.

He then jumped to 17.68m on July 9 - a stadium record - at the National Stadium in Kingston, to win the Jamaican title.

He also went undefeated throughout the college season.

His achievements also bestowed upon him decades-old collegiate and world records, earning him the accolade of world leader at the end of 2023 in the discipline.

Hibbert is also the first freshman to be honoured with the men’s award, and the youngest in its 14-year history, regardless of gender.

He was also the third finalist from Jamaica, following Janeek Brown (2019) and Andrew Riley (2012).

Powell said her son, a freshman studying Sports Management at the University of Arkansas, has had an up-and-down season emotionally, largely due to managing the demands of the sport, his education and expectations.

“Sometimes I call him and just pray for him. Pray, pray, cry to God! And then after he will feel empowered and we would just leave everything to God,” said Powell.

“We are very close. I have been with him from Kindergarten, from his days attending RJR Basic School, running on the track and I am there running with him too because I am an athlete also. I have been running with Jaydon from day one and we are very close, when he is stressed, he comes to me and tells me anything.

“I sit and talk to him like a man, and not like a child. Because, at the end of the day, he is 18 now and so I can’t talk to him like a child because he is no longer underage,” she said.

Recalling his athletic journey, Powell said that a “tiny Jaydon” tried everything at Kingston College (KC) before settling down with his current discipline.

“Even hurdles! Triple jump was his last resort. You can believe that this was his last resort? You know they always say that ‘leave the best for last’? And it wasn’t a case where he was really trying it out, he just saw some other athletes doing it and asked the coach if he could try it and that is where it all started. He came home one day and say, ‘Mommy, yuh know I find my event’. That was in nine grade at KC,” she said.

Hibbert’s triumph also makes him the third freshman overall to win the Bowerman as Sha’Carri Richardson (LSU, in 2019), and Athing Mu (Texas A&M, 2021), were previous female winners.

Despite his remarkable success, Jaydon has remained humble.

“I talked to him right after the ceremony ended, he video-called me and I congratulated him. Then I started to cry again, but he made sure to warn me ‘Mommy, no bother with the crying now enuh’, because once I start to cry he would cry also. But everyone, including his two siblings, are very proud of him. Jaydon is such a humble, God-fearing young man and there is no limit to his talent,” Powell said, who is looking for the jubilation to continue next summer when the 2024 version of the Olympic Games takes place in Paris.

‘I will be there, God’s willing,” she said.

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