Dunedin long jumper making big leaps

On a chilly and windy Dunedin day at Caledonian Ground last weekend, long jumper Felix McDonald was getting in some final training before flying out to Adelaide to compete in the Australian Athletics Championships.

The event is the largest athletics meet in the southern hemisphere, attracting almost 4000 competitors from across Asia and the Pacific. 

For many it's a chance to assess where they're at, heading towards the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics.

Dunedin-based McDonald, who jumps for Athletics Taieri, comes into the event as the current New Zealand long jump champion, after achieving a jump of 7.65 metres last month in Wellington.

"Jumping probably my most consistent season. I jumped a few big jumps early season and then really focused on nationals and managed to perform really well there with a PB,"  McDonald said.

The personal best set in Wellington was 4cm further than his previous best. 

He's aiming to back that up this week in Adelaide, in his first appearance at an Australian Championships as a senior male competitor.

Felix McDonald hones his technique during a final training session at Caledonian Ground, ahead of...
Felix McDonald hones his technique during a final training session at Caledonian Ground, ahead of the Australian Athletics Championships.  PHOTO: JACK WARD

McDonald believes he's in the best shape of his career so far - both mentally and physically - to outperform his recent best.

"I feel like I'm in a space where I can jump a PB, I'm in PB territory - whether that's 2cm or 30cm I don't know, which is exciting. It's the exciting thing about it," he said.

The Dunedin athlete will also compete in the 100 metres sprint, and 4x100 relay alongside fellow Otago sprinters Hayato Yoneto, Jackson Rogers and John Gerber.

Sprinting is McDonald’s second sting to his athletic bow - one he says has its benefits when it comes to the long jump.

“It is all about speed on the runway, basically. If you’re a fast runner, you’ve got more of a chance of being a good long jumper," he explained.

“I’ve dialled down my 100 metre time quite dramatically this season and that has led to a bit of success in the long jump so they coincide really well.

And when the dust has settled from Adelaide, the 26-year-old has his eyes set on national honours.

“There’s a World Champs coming up next year [in Tokyo]  and I’ll be aiming to try and qualify for that but I’ll be going back to Aussie next year and competing again, hopefully doing even better than I do this year.”

"I’m really excited to head over there and dice it up with the Aussies."

The Australian Athletics Championships started today and runs through until next Friday, with Mcdonald’s three events all scheduled for this weekend.

- By Jack Ward
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