Jamaica holds high cards in Euro Champs 100m
When the Berlin Olympic Stadium opens its doors to the European Championships on August 7, a crew of sprinters with strong ties to Jamaica will be seeking glory in the men's 100 metres.
Boys and Girls' Championships Class One record holder Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain leads the line on the clock, but the race for gold won't be a cakewalk. In the 200m, one of the contenders is Nethaneil Mitchell-Blake, who, like Hughes, once raced at the renowned Jamaican high school championships. Standing squarely in Mitchell-Blake's path is World Champion Ramil Guliyev.
Four years after the native Anguillan set a Class One 100m record of 10.12 seconds wearing the purple and white of Kingston College, Hughes is joint number one with France's Jimmy Vicaut on the European performance list at 9.91 seconds. Though Vicaut is nursing a minor niggle, Hughes, who trains in Jamaica with the Racers Track Club, still has to worry about Reece Prescod, who beat him in the British Championships. The other key player could be 2016 runner-up Jaak Ali Harvey of Turkey. As Jacques Harvey, he won the World University Games 100 for Jamaica in 2011.
At 9.92, his personal best is just 0.01 slower than Hughes', and he has a 2018 best of 9.99.
Also in the field are Italian 9.99 man Filippo Tortu; Harvey's teammate Guliyev, who is seeking the sprint double; and Emre Barnes, who has set a personal best of 10.08 seconds this season. As Winston Barnes, he was a star at Champs in Class Two and Class Three for Jamaica College.
The Berlin track hosted the 2009 World Championships where Usain Bolt set the world record of 9.58 seconds.
Mitchell-Blake also ran for Jamaica College, from where he won the European Junior 200m title. Since then, he attended Louisiana State University, and last year, he reached the World 200m final and helped Great Britain to defeat the United States in the 4x100 metres relay. He has run 20.21 seconds this year, but Guliyev is the only European under 20 at 19.90 seconds. Also ahead of Mitchell-Blake in the pecking order is Alex Wilson, who moved to Switzerland from Jamaica 11 years ago. He is the third fastest European this season at 20.14 behind Guliyev and Spain's Bruno Hortelano, who has a time of 20.04.
The 100m for men starts with qualifying rounds on August 6 and the semis and final on August 7. The 200m final is set for August 9.