Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Hubert Lawrence: Be like Bolt?

Published:Thursday | March 24, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Calabar's Christopher Taylor
KC's Akeem Bloomfield
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The trouble with the Usain Bolt comparisons that are flying around is that the tall man from Trelawny is a once-in-a-generation superstar.

To confer comparable senior international success upon Akeem Bloomfield and Chris Taylor because they have exceeded Bolt's high-school times is dangerous. It's pressure that they don't need.

Both boys have given evidence that they are extra special and could go all the way.

Bloomfield's conversion from the shorter sprints to the 400m yielded a national junior record of 44.93 seconds at Boys and Girls' Championships last year.

Taylor is a marvel and has the World Youth gold medal to prove it. Though this little dynamo set his personal best of 45.27 seconds in the high altitude of Cali, Colombia, he is clearly capable of going faster.

Theoretically, gold medals and world records aren't out of the question in the future.

Even so, the temptation to crown either one of them 'the new Bolt' must be resisted. It is borne of respect for the tall man and his 11 individual World/Olympics gold medals and five world records.

Surely, it is too much to guarantee that anyone will fill Bolt's shoes completely.

Bad memory shrouds how good the tall man was in the 400 metres when he was 16 and in his last year at Champs for William Knibb Memorial High School in 2003.

With insistent rain sprinkling down, he used his speed early on the very track where he had won the World Junior title the year before. He kept his foot on the gas until he realised that his prime rival, Jermaine Gonzales, had stopped. His time blasted the record from 46.22 to 45.35 seconds.

A full effort might have broken the 45-second barrier.

He hasn't paid the 400m much attention since, and his personal best of 45.28 seconds shows it.

Later in 2003, Bolt equalled Roy Martin's world junior record of 20.13 seconds. He took sole ownership of that record at the 2004 Carifta Games by winning in 19.93 seconds at age 17.

Even now, no other junior athlete has run the 200m faster than 20 seconds.

More important than all that is the need for Kingston College and Calabar to continue to manage these two lads well.

Neil Harrison, the KC coach, has strengthened Bloomfield and has avoided the 100 and 200 metres to avert the disasters of the past.

Similarly, Michael Clarke, the Calabar guru, has kept Taylor clear of troubles.

One thing is certain. Taylor must need some recovery time after his 10-race effort at Champs.

Together with Jaheel Hyde and 2013 World Youth 400m champion, Bloomfield and Taylor give Jamaica bright hopes for this year's World Junior Championships in the 400m, the 400-metre hurdles and the 4x400m. Some of them may even see action at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

- HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.