Cooke breaks record twice

HARARE - Keegan Cooke, a Zimbabwean decathlete based in the United States broke his personal high jump record twice inside three days recently.

Cooke shrugged off a shoulder injury that saw him being side-lined from active competition since joining the Santa Barbara Track club (SBTC) in March this year until his recent clearance early this month.

The 25-year-old decathlete participated at the games held at the United States Olympic Training Centre where he bettered his personal best long and high jump records.

Cooke clocked 7.05m in the long jump and 1.93m in high jump respectively before returning to beat his new high jump record three days later when he soared to 1.96m.

In the process, Cooke earned plaudits from SBTC executive director and coach, Josh Priester.

“The jumps are valuable points in the decathlon, Keegan has the ability to do very well in these events and they will be a big asset as he moves forward. He hasn’t been able to throw much the past two months, but from the small amount we have seen, he will do very well,” Josh Priester said.

Cooke said he ended up at SBTC by accident having visited the facility just to enquire about finding an early season competition in Southern California.

A friend with connections with at the SBTC headquarters, Westmont College, facilitated the Zimbabwean’s move to the club.

Cooke hopes to represent the country at the highest level at the Olympics one day and eventually return to Zimbabwe to setup training programmes for the youths.

"Although in most athletic aspects this year has not gone the way we had planned, fortunately the adventures have turned out to be better than we could have hoped for,” Cooke told the Daily News from the USA.

“We were looking at the 2014 season as a chance to make a big overall improvement in the decathlon; this was unable to happen due to a fractured elbow in the spring.

“But more importantly, however, we came across an incredible coach, (Josh Priester) and some great training partners, which makes the long term goals appear more achievable.”

Decathlon is a 10-event track and field athletic contest competed over two days.

It comprises of the 100m sprint, 400m and the 1500 m run, hurdles, javelin, discus throws, shot put, pole vault, high jump and long lump.

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