Hubert Lawrence | Every little thing is gonna be all right
If you listen carefully, you can still hear the lament that followed the retirement last year by the incomparable Usain Bolt. People keep asking who will replace the tall man and the answer is still the same all these four months after his last race - no one. That era is over.
However, in the results of the first three weeks of this post-Bolt era, there are signs that every little thing is going to be all right. Just last Saturday at the Big Shot Invitational, World Champion-ship discus finalists Fedrick Dacres and Traves Smikle winged massive throws of 68.02 and 67.72 metres respectively with that Smikle mark a personal best. At the same Excelsior venue two weeks before, World triple jump finalist Shanieka Ricketts christened the new runway with a big leap of 14.49 metres.
That's not far off her lifetime best.
Overseas, hurdler supreme Omar McLeod had marked the register with a zippy run of 7.51 seconds in the 60 metre hurdles with putter Danielle Thomas-Dodd and Natoya Goule blazing early. Thomas-Dodd had her biggest season opening throw of her life in Ohio at 18.21m and Goule broke two minutes for the indoor 800 metres for the first time with a 1 minute 59.86 second solo victory in South Carolina.
Throw in solid season openers by 400 metre runners Shericka Jackson and Javon Francis and the reasons for hope grow. Jackson, bronze medal winner at the 2015 World Championships and the Olympics, laid down a 23.02 second clocking over 200 metres at the Central Hurdles and Relays meet while relay genius Francis returned from an injury smashed 2017 season with an encouraging run of 46.19 seconds at the Wint/McKenley Classic.
Best of all, 2011 World Youth long champion Chanice Porter popped up with a winner measuring 6.54 metres in the same meet where Goule was caught speeding. Gold medals by Porter and Dacres in 2011 preceded a medal table topping team performance by Jamaica at the 2013 World Youth Champion-ships. That team included winners Yanique Thompson and Jaheel Hyde who were in London last year at the World Championships.
The seniors are getting ready for the World Indoor Champion-ships and the Commonwealth Games which arrive in March and April respectively but the big marks show potential that could blossom when the 2019 World Championships roll around. By then, even with Bolt long gone, Jamaica could be on the upswing.
The outlook is bright but the lament still ponders Bolt's absence and the loss of control of the men's sprints. Led by Yohan Blake, Jamaica is still strong. In fact, a team anchored by Blake set the world 4x200 metres record in 2015 without the great man. That's quality and depth.
Bolt is gone but if the results of these early season contests are anything to go by, everything is going to be all right.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.