Jamaican sprinter Gayon Evans said winning the IAAF World Indoor Tour against incredible odds last weekend was a special moment in her career.
The 27-year-old Evans clocked 7.17 as she finished second in the 60-metre dash at the Muller Invitational in Birmingham, England, securing the points she needed to overhaul American Barbara Pierre and take the World Indoor Tour title. Elaine Thompson won the race in a world-leading 6.98s while Pierre was fourth in 7.20.
Evans was one of two Caribbean athletes in line to challenge for a title but Grenada’s Bralon Taplin, who had gone into the meet tied on points for the 400m title, finished fourth and lost out on the US$20,000 bonus.
For Evans, however, the title and the cash marked the culmination of a successful indoor season that yielded the fruits of the hard work she has put in under the guidance of Maurice Wilson for the past two seasons.
“It’s means a lot. When I was invited to compete on the Indoor circuit I had no idea that I could gain an automatic entry to next year’s World Indoors if I had won the series,” she told Sportsmax.tv after her recent return to Jamaica.
“I was running some of the fastest times I have ever done over the distance and it motivated me to go for the win. It’s always a good feeling to be able to represent your country especially on the world stage in an individual event.”
As she looks forward to the outdoor season, she says her confidence is high.
“This helps to boost my confidence and will help me to train even harder and try my best to stay healthy,” she said.
“The championships is next year and I need to be ready for that. I will now turn my focus to the outdoor season and see what’s in store for me there.”
When she stepped to the line in Lane 4 of the final of the women’s 60-metre dash at the Muller Invitational Indoor meet in Birmingham, England, a lot was at stake.
She had arrived in Birmingham in contention for the US$20,000 bonus awarded to the winners of each of the 11 disciplines contested during the five-meet tour. Having accumulated 15 points, she was only two points behind 2016 World Indoor Champion Barbara Pierre, who raced from Lane 3.
Evans ran from Lane 4 and to her left in Lane 5 was double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson. In Lane 6 was another Jamaican Christania Williams. Great Britain’s Asha Phillip was in Lane 7.
For Evans to claim the bonus, she not only had to beat Pierre, she also had to find a way to be in the top three and hope that Pierre who had gone as fast as 7.11s the week before finished behind her.
Surprisingly, the diminutive Jamaican said she wasn’t worried.
“To be honest I was relaxed and more excited for this race even with the fact that Barbara had beaten me in the race previous to this and had ran a much faster time that I have ever ran,” said Evans.
Coming out of the previous race in Poland, Evans, who had established a new personal best of 7.14s in Germany a couple weeks before, said there were some technical things she needed to correct and that helped her focus on her own race rather than think about her rivals.
“I had spoken to my coach Maurice Wilson about it. He pointed out what I did wrong and what I needed to do and as such I was more focused on getting my race right than on my competitors. I knew that once I could execute well I would be able to pull through,” she said.
“Having Elaine and Christania in the race also helped me to be more relaxed as I have competed against them numerous times and so this helped me to remain calm and focused on the task.”
Wilson’s influence, she said, also played its part in ensuring that she was well prepared to compete in a race stacked with incredible talent including the 2016 Indoor champion.
“Even though the points between Pierre and I were very close leading up to the race I kept focusing on what my coach asked me to do, which was to stay relaxed and execute. I am a woman of faith and I prayed daily about it and never doubted my ability,” she said.
“When we lined up I told myself it means something to be Gayon Evans, in reality it means something to be whoever you are but it’s for you to believe it. I also told myself ‘this is it Gayon’ and I hoped that the results worked out in my favor. And it did.”