It was what you would a “nice” weekend in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of southern France, warm, sunny and pleasant. But in the commune of Aubagne, things were heating up thanks to one of the Caribbean competitors in the French Under-23 National Championships.
Sandisha Antoine, still months away from her 22nd birthday, starred at last month’s Saint Lucia’s National Championships, with a personal-best effort in the long jump and a strong showing in triple jump exhibition. Based in Martinique, where she is a member of the Asco Inter Atlas club, the Vieux Fort native travelled to Aubagne to put on a show, and that she did.
First up was triple jump, an event in which Antoine has held the national record since her teens. In 2011, she crossed the 13m barrier and last year she improved to 13.16m to place second at the French U-23 in Reims. This year, she started out with a 12.88m clearance, joint first overall with Marther Mioland . But it would all change for Antoine and the competition in the second round.
With a trailing wind of 1.5 metres per second, Antoine hopped, stepped and jumped her way out to 13.20m on her second trial. It was one of just two clearances over 13m for her, including her final-round trial of 13.14m, with no wind. Mioland never improved on her 12.88, and Elenore Bailly from As Aix-les-bains could manage only 13.00m on her third attempt to take home the silver medal.
With her first French national title out of the way, and a Saint Lucia national record to boot, Antoine turned her attention to long jump, where she cleared a career-record mark of 6.30m in Saint Lucia two weeks ago. On that occasion, I commented that Michelle Baptiste’s 17-year-old national record of 6.47m might be in danger, and based on this weekend’s results, that remains very much the case.
Trailing, with two fouls and a best effort of a mere 6.07m, Antoine cleared 6.39m with a -0.5 m/s wind in the penultimate round. It was a stirring come-from-behind victory, with Amandine Raffion (6.29m) and Noemie Combettes (6.24m) well back of the Saint Lucian. And with one of her fouls falling in the 6.50m region, there is every indication that this young lady has a lot more left in the tank.
When she lines up for next weekend’s French Elite Championships at the Stade Sébastien Charléty in Paris, several numbers will be in play. She will target both national records again. She will keep in mind qualifying standards for next month’s World Championships, (6.65m in long jump) and the 6.71m Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States record held by Grenada’s Patricia Sylvester.
If all goes well, Antoine is looking forward to another very nice weekend.