Hyde readies for Diamond date at Prefontaine Classic
Saturday is a big day for Jamaican hurdling prodigy, Jaheel Hyde.
Dominant at the youth level, the 18-year-old schoolboy will face his greatest test yet, as he lines up in the 400 metres hurdles in his first ever IAAF Diamond League race at Saturday's Prefontaine Classics in Hayward Field in Eugene.
Defending World champion, Jehue Gordon; Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 World champion and Olympic medallist; Javier Culson, who has won medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships, and Olympic and World Champion-ships silver medal winner, Michael Tinsley, are some of the giants that the young Wolmer's sixth-former will be looking to match strides with.
The youngster claimed the World Junior title and national junior record, World Youth and Youth Olympic gold medals, as well as another national junior record, in the shorter hurdling event, the 110m hurdles.
However, Hyde, who admitted to being nervous as he got ready to leave the island and head to Eugene, says he is looking forward to the experience that will be gained competing at this level.
"Of course, I am nervous," Hyde laughed. "There are a lot of top athletes in the race, and if I want to move on to the next level, these are the things I have to be faced with in terms of running and running at meets like these, so I'm just going out there to do my best and they will definitely push me to give my best.
"Going on to the next level is every athlete's dream, and not just that, but to also make the transition, and me being selected for one of these meets is a plus for me in terms of gaining experience going forward," Hyde told The Gleaner. "I'm not putting any time on my head, I'm just going out there to have fun and to gain some experience.
Hyde, who is also preparing for external examinations, shared that he has been doing well in training under coach Christopher Harley and hoping to learn a few tricks ahead of his push to make the World Championships team later this year.
"One of the reasons why we chose this track meet is because I am running some good times in training and I don't think my coach would have sent me out there if he didn't think that I would run to the best of my ability, so I think I'm good with where I am right now and I'm looking forward to the meet," Hyde added.
"The aim for me is to first and foremost make the team going to the World Championships in Beijing and these meets with older and better competitors will provide me with the experience that I need because, of course, it's not only about physical ability, but also mental ability and this meet and ones to come will give me that edge," said Hyde.
The last time he competed in Eugene, Hyde dazzled en-route to winning gold at the World Junior Championships in the best time ever by a Jamaican.
It would take a brave man to bet on a win for the Jamaican here, but there might just be a special showing by a special athlete once again, in the city where Steve Fontaine - in whose honour the meet is named - defied the odds as a teenager to score big wins against much more heralded athletes back in the 60s.