Pullen makes history in Razorbacks’ shirt

FAYETTEVILLE — For only the second time since 2014, Clive Pullen triple-jumps while not in an Arkansas Razorbacks shirt.

It marks the first time, Pullen says, he jumps not in awe of wearing a shirt different than Arkansas’.

Even while winning Jamaica’s national triple jump championship in 2016 and again last June 24, graduating senior Pullen wore garb representing the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Razorbacks junior All-American 400-meter hurdler Kemar Mowatt also wore Arkansas’ shirt while qualifying with Pullen to represent Jamaica at next month’s World Outdoor Championships in London.

From much of the retired Arkansas Coach John McDonnell era through the entire ongoing Coach Chris Bucknam Arkansas era, Jamaica has pipelined track athletes into Arkansas who have blossomed to world class, including former Razorbacks and current Jamaican World Championships team hurdler Omar McLeod.

“I see that continuing,” Pullen said, noting Jamaican high school record-setting triple jumper Carey McLeod signing with Arkansas.

Pullen made Jamaican history in 2016 wearing Arkansas’ shirt. He not only won Jamaica’s Olympic Trials but, with a then-personal best 55-5 1-2, met the Olympic standard. At the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Pullen became Jamaica’s first Olympic triple jumper since 1972.

The spotlight proved too bright for the then-Arkansas junior in Jamaica’s shirt. He fouled trying for a huge jump on his first two jumps and failed to advance on his Olympics final prelim jump.

“He was the first Jamaican Olympic triple jumper in 44 years,” Arkansas field events coach Travis Geopfert said.

“So I think whether we intended it to be that way or not, the celebration happened at the Jamaican National Championships. It was such a high and such a big deal. Now for these World Championships it’s ‘I’ve been there before. This year I’m ready to make some noise.’”

Pullen concurs.

“The day I jumped I kind of had a little bit of stage fright,” Pullen said. “I’ve grown from it. This time around should be different. I am certainly not carrying that as baggage into Worlds. I’m absolutely excited and ready to go.”

Pullen is a better jumper now, Geopfert said. The two-time NCAA Indoor triple jump champion leaped a personal best 56-4 indoors last winter.

“When he did his jump, that was No. 4 in the world,” Geopfert said. “So Clive: ‘You’re that good. You don’t have to nail it with a personal best in prelims. Just go execute and do what you normally do and make the final and go from there.’”

A hamstring injury prevented Pullen from having the 2017 outdoor season he wanted. But he’s healed now.

Missing some meets has freshened him for these World Championships, he said.

“A lot of collegians are at the tipping off point by now,” Pullen said.

“Last year I was like that. This year I’m not drained. I just had a great triple jump from a short approach. I won’t say the distance, but it gave me great confidence it’s coming together at the right time.”

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