A SELF-PROCLAIMED SKILLED footballer in his early days at Calabar High School, Fedrick Dacres decided to give up the sport as he saw no future in it.
He then went on to dabble in badminton and running, but soon concluded that sports could not be his calling.
Fast-forward just a few short years later and it’s an entirely different story for 23-year-old Dacres. He is currently ranked third in the world for the men’s discus throw.
Dacres attributes the start of his career to his older brother Rojay, who was considered a star track and field athlete at Calabar High School. In 2008 Rojay represented his high school at the CARIFTA Games in St Kitts, where he executed a memorable performance. Sheer coincidence would put Dacres in the path of his brother’s coach, Julian Robinson. “One day my brother’s coach came to our house to speak with him and my mother mentioned that she had another son attending Calabar. The coach asked to meet me, but during the encounter I told him I wasn’t athletically inclined and that I never did anything. He said, ‘Just come and try out for the track team’. Dacres made the team, but almost instantly realised that he disliked the whole “running and jumping thing”. He did, however, discover that he had a knack for throw events. At that time, Dacres considered himself an “okay thrower” but his level of competence copped him a spot on Jamaica’s national team in his first year. He also received overwhelming offers for sports scholarships from several top-ranked colleges abroad, but he chose The UWI, Mona.
“I was never really a ‘foreign-minded’ person so I took the scholarship to The University of the West Indies. They do the degree that I wanted, so there was no real reason for me to leave,” he said.
Now in the final year of a degree in Sociology, with a minor in Social Policies and Development, Dacres has no regrets. His decision to study at the Mona Campus meant that he was able to remain close to his family, retain the coach he had from high school and travel the world to boot, visiting places such as Miramar, San Salvador, Oslo and Beijing, among others.
Dacres also had to stay on top of his game in the classroom as maintaining a sports scholarship was no easy feat. “I had to perform athletically and academically,” he told UWIMONA Now. “I had to maintain a GPA of over 2.5 and this was not easy because you’ll always be distracted, so I had to prioritise.”
As a professional discus thrower, Dacres credits his success to his strength of character and his family. He said growing up, he was always close to his parents and siblings, though they did not always openly express emotions. This “toughness” is what he believes helped him to cope with the emotional and psychological stress that comes with being an athlete. This toughness was tested in 2014 when he had to do surgery following what could have been a career-ending knee injury. Dacres was able to overcome the psychological distress and prove to himself that he could still do well in his discipline. He copped gold at the XVII Pan American Games in Canada with a throw of 64.80m a year later; he was the first Jamaican to reach the final of a discus event at the 15th IAAF World Championships in China and he competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Although all great accomplishments, Dacres says his greatest has been his participation in the IAAF Diamond Leagues, “The majority of the top players are in the Diamond League so the League that you compete in might be like the finals of the World Championships. Sometimes in the World Championships some people might not make it to the finals so you don’t have that experience of throwing with the big guys, but with the Diamond League, you get the big guys from the get-go,” he said. He added: “Going into that I was trying to prove to myself that I’m not a choker because when you have problems you think about it and mistakes made in the past [but] I competed well straight through and that gave me great confidence in myself and it reaffirmed that I am who I am.”
His first Diamond League was in Rome last year, where he placed fourth. He then competed in Oslo earlier this year and copped second place with a throw of 67.10 metres to finish behind renowned thrower Daniel Stahl. In June of this year, Dacres then won the top spot in the League’s Stockholm competition with a throw of 68.36 metres, beating Daniel Stahl. He is looking forward to his last two Diamond Leagues for this season – London on July 9th and Brussels on September 1st, as well as competing in the IAAF World Championships to be held August 5-13 in London.
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