For decades, Jamaica consistently produced world-class male sprinters such as Usain Bolt, the current world record holder in the 100 and 200 meters with a clocking of 9.58 and 19.19, respectively; Yohan Blake, who is the second fastest man in history over the sprint double with 9.69 and 19.26 and Asafa Powell, a former world record holder in the 100 meters who has recorded the most sub-10 clockings of all time.
However, since Bolt graced the track for the last time in 2017 at the Olympic Games in London, Jamaican men’s sprinting has been in dire need of a post-Bolt distinction, as many athletes did not produce the quality performances that the world was accustomed to while he dominated the sport for a decade.
Veteran sports commentator and track and field analyst Hubert Lawrence indicated that the long wait is over, as many Jamaican male athletes are stepping up to the plate to carry on the long legacy of dominance that the nation has exhibited over the years. “We got hungry, and we felt vulnerable. Bolt had gone and had taken with him a guarantee of gold medals at the high level, and with him gone, we felt nervous. Yohan Blake got hurt and wasn’t able to come back to where he was before, and, it has taken him time to come back to where he is now, which is 9.85 and national champion. And that is as good a chance as any to run really well in Eugene this weekend.
“In addition to Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake, you would have to add Conroy Jones and the others who are coming on as well, who are right at 10 flat. It’s a sign to be patient. When we look at Champs, CARIFTA and the World Juniors from 2016, you see that including Seville, there was Ackeem Blake, who was the Under-18 national champion. You see that there was potential coming up and that you had to be patient to make it mature,” said Lawrence. “There are still more out there including
Raheem Chambers, who trains with MVP International, Jhevaughn Matherson, former KC star, Tyreke Wilson, who’s at Elite Performance and former Calabar High star, Michael Stephens, who’s at Racers Track Club, where Oblique Seville is. These are all youngsters who have credentials from the junior ranks that make them possible international stars in the future.”
However, Lawrence cited that while the men’s 100 meters has gained strides with the return of Yohan Blake, and the rise of Seville and Ackeem Blake, who have clocked the three fastest times since the Bolt era, the men’s 200 meters is still a work in progress.
“So, these boys and Yohan Blake, who is 32, the same age as Linford Christie when he won his first major title at the 1992 Olympics, are part of what seems like a reviver, but is something that you would see them coming if you were able to be patient enough to watch it. Yes, Jamaican men’s sprinting is back on a rise, but it is predictable and expected.” said Lawrence.
“The 200 meters is not quite there. Unfortunately, Andrew Hudson didn’t get his eligibility done in time, and, so, he’s missing. He looked really good at 200 at the national championships. Rasheed Dwyer was in the finals last year at the Olympics and he’s a 19.8 man, Yohan Blake second at the national champs looking a little bit down from Hudson so, we’ll see. But, when you look into the future, there’s people like Antonio Watson at 200 meters. So, I think there is a lot to look forward to in Eugene, but in the year to come as well at 200.” continued Lawrence.
Meanwhile, Lawrence added that the men who have secured their spot for the 4×100 meters relay pool have what it takes toclaim a podium finish at this year’s World Championships in Eugene. The relaypool includes Yohan Blake, Oblique Seville, Ackeem Blake, Jelani Walker, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Conroy Jones. “I think the 4×100 relay team is really really good. Last year, a medal went begging with the men and the world record with the women. This was because of Covid-19, and there was no Jamaican camp,
and, therefore, no relay practice. So, what you saw for the relays is what we call fresh-foot runs, runs with not too much preparation.” said Lawrence.
“So, as we speak now the team is in Eugene and in camp, and will be able to practice a little bit before the games. I think the baton passes will be better. The men ran 37.82 last year in the heats and got to the finals, and this team has faster and fitter people on it all around. So, if this team gets the baton passes right, they are definitely a medal-winning team.” continued Lawrence.
The Jamaican men will face the starter in the heats of the 100 meters on Day 1 of the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships on Friday, July 15 at 8:50 pm Jamaica time, while the 200 and 4×100 meters are scheduled for Monday, July 18 and Friday, July 22, respectively.
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