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Dunkley looking to bounce back

Published:Tuesday | April 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

A year ago, 400 metre runner Fitzroy Dunkley was flying high at the Penn Relays. Now 12 months after a winning anchor leg for a Jamaica in the USA versus the World 4x400 metre relay, Dunkley is back from injury and hoping to be selected for Penn again. Beyond that, the former triple jumper has his eye on the next cycle of major championships.

Winner of an Olympic silver medallist in the 2016 4x400m relay, Dunkley circled Calvin Smith Junior to give Jamaica the win at Penn in 2017. Speaking from Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week, he recalled, "The team gave me a reasonable chance to make a good move, so the Jamaican crowd was behind me and once I have that, anything was possible."

A foot injury killed his indoor season and any dreams of running for Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games, but now he's 100 per cent again, he is looking ahead.

"I'm running a race every weekend in this month, so like I'm getting the 200s in, getting the 4x400s in", he explained, "getting my speed up and my fitness up to get ready for a 400."

Forced by lower back issues to switch from the triple jump to the one-lap sprint, Dunkley made his mark in 2016. He placed second in the 400m at the NCAA Division I Championships, with a personal best 45.06 seconds and helped Louisiana State University (LSU) to win the 4x400m relay with a stout 44.2 anchor leg. At the Olympics, he helped Jamaica to the runner-up spot.

Dunkley is ready for the challenge of competing for individual and relay spots on Jamaican teams to the 2019 World Championships, the 2020 Olympic Games and the 2021 Worlds.

"There are probably six or seven guys who can be in the top three for Jamaica, so that's what I'm looking for, a very competitive atmosphere for the 400m", he projected.

"My main goal is to stay healthy", he asserted, "because once I'm healthy, I'm going to run fast."

A promising sign for the Falmouth native came on April 21 in Baton Rouge at the LSU Alumni Gold meet. Running on the track he has called home since he went on a scholarship to Louisiana State University, Dunkley clocked 21.14 seconds in the 200 metres to establish a personal best.