Hubert Lawrence | Did Hyde make the right move?
Only time will tell if Jaheel Hyde, the 400 metres hurdler with no limits, has made the right move to split from his long-time coach Chris Harley and to join the MVP Track Club. It appears that Hyde felt he had to move to chase faster times and honours at the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics.
The MVP has a brilliant record in the 400 metre hurdles, with Melaine Walker winning Olympic gold in 2008 and the World Championships in 2009, and Kaliese Spencer and Janieve Russell taking the Commonwealth gold in 2014 and 2018, respectively.
If that doesn't convince you, Walker is the second-fastest hurdler of all time with her Jamaican record of 52.42 seconds. Added to all that, the MVP guided Markino Buckley to the 2008 Olympic men's 400- metre hurdles final.
Hyde is fast on the flat and has impressive sprint hurdling credentials. It's a match made in heaven.
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Still, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. Hyde has improved each year since he and coach Harley took on the challenge of the 400-hurdles in 2014. He set national junior records of 49.48 and 49.29 seconds, respectively, in his first season in the event, with the latter effort enough to nap his first World Under-20 title.
He followed that with national junior improvements to 49.01 in 2015 and 48.81 in 2016. In 2017, his upswing continued to 48.52 seconds.
His partnership with coach Harley had also seen him graduate to the senior level with semi-final spots in the Olympics and World Championships and to a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in April.
Ironically, that bronze probably isn't enough for a two-time World Under-20 champion who has also won a 2012 Youth Olympic gold and a 2013 World Under-18 gold in the 110 metres hurdles. That Commonwealth result reversed the placings with Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands from the 2016 World Under-20 Championship. With McMaster's personal best now being 47.80 seconds, Hyde may well feel that he had lost ground.
Added to that, TJ Holmes of the United States reached the 2017 World Championships final. Like McMaster in 2016, Hyde had beaten Holmes into third at the 2014 World Under-20 Championships.
Now, the young American's personal best is 48.44 seconds, 0.08 better than Hyde's.
At home, he has seen the rise of Kemar Mowatt to a personal best of 48.49 and fourth place, ahead of Holmes, at the World Championships.
That debate will continue, but there is no argument about the timing of the move. A new cycle of major championships begins next year with the World Championships in Doha. The Olympics and another World Championships follow in 2020 and 2021. That leaves this season as the time for change.
One can recall 400 metres king Jeremy Wariner changing coaches in the Olympic year of 2008. His former coach, Clyde Hart, had led him to gold in 2004 and in the World Championships of 2005 and 2007. He lost his Olympic title to fellow American LaShawn Merritt and never regained his World title either. So while change can be good, a badly timed change can hurt.
Whatever you think about Hyde's coaching change, you have to agree that his timing is good. It gives the MVP a chance to lay the foundation for the cycle of championships that will come thick and fast starting in 2019. Hopefully, everything will work out.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.