Choices, choices, and more for Jaheel Hyde

Published: Friday | December 27, 2013 Comments 0
Hubert Lawrence
Hubert Lawrence
Jaheel Hyde winning the boys' Under-17 110m hurdles at the Carifta Trials on March 3, 2013 at the National Stadium. - FILE
Jaheel Hyde winning the boys' Under-17 110m hurdles at the Carifta Trials on March 3, 2013 at the National Stadium. - FILE
Jaheel Hyde in action for Wolmers' Boys.
Jaheel Hyde in action for Wolmers' Boys.

It's a good thing that Jaheel Hyde has already made up his mind to focus on track and field. Had that not happened, he'd have too many balls in the air. As things stand, he has a lot to think about anyway. As it relates to athletics, he still has choices, choices, and more choices.

He heads to 2014 as the World Youth 100-metre hurdles champion. Competing in black, green and gold in the Ukraine, the Wolmerian scared the living daylights out of the world youth best. His winning time of 13.13 seconds came within a hair's breadth of a new world mark.

He is tall enough to adjust well to the slightly higher hurdles he will encounter at ISSA Boys and Girls' Championships in Class One, and at the World Junior Championships. For all we know, this champion's brain probably has the World Junior gold medal in its sights.

Funnily enough, the sprint hurdles might not even be his best event. At ISSA Boys and Girls' Champion-ships 2013, he was second in a landmark races with no hurdles. Ahead of him, Devaughn Baker of JC took Ramone McKenzie's 2007 Class Two 400-metre record down from 47.24 to 46.64. Hyde out-leaned Martin Manley for second - 46.93 - as both followed the JC boy under the record and under the unthinkable 47 second barrier.

Manley went on to break the 46-second barrier in winning the World Youth title in 45.89 seconds. That must be encouraging for Baker and Hyde. Their entry into the Class One ranks has Champs fans already thinking about them meeting the likes of Javon Francis, Calabar's World Championships 4x400 relay hero.

Some are even suggesting that with pressure from Manchester's Lennox Williams and the newcomers, Francis could threaten Usain Bolt's 2003 mark of 45.35 seconds.

clearing hurdles

Strangely, the 400 metres might not even be Hyde's best event. I'd like to see him try the 400-metre hurdles. He's fast and he can hurdle. That's a combination that could eventually see him breaking Omar McLeod's fresh Champs record of 49.98 seconds. It's an event he simply has to try.

So Jaheel and his coaches at Wolmers' Boys School have choices to make. Doubling in any blend of 'his' event is rare at the senior international level, but he has time to fit the puzzle together. Is the right answer 110 hurdles, 400 flat or 400-metre hurdles?

There are formidable foes in each of those events. He lost at Champs to Calabar's Michael O'hara in the Class Two 110-metre hurdles, and Marvin Williams took the World Youth 400 hurdles gold medal in the Ukraine.

Despite his declaration in favour of athletics, the football fraternity may not have given up on him. Indeed, his Manning and Walker Cup showings may even have given them reason to woo him back to the sport. His speed may just be the thing Jamaica needs to launch swift counter-attacks en route to the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

son of a sportsman

His dad, the erstwhile Clarendon College ball artist Lenny 'Teacher' Hyde, won't force him, but there are probably gentle reminders from dad to son from time to time. So Jaheel may have more choices to contemplate than most people think.

Track fans will be hoping that he will remain resolute. The only choices they want him to make in 2014 will be between the 400, the 400 metre hurdles and the 110 metre hurdles. Should he follow in the footsteps of Maurice Wignall, Richard Phillips, Dwight Thomas and Andrew Riley in the high hurdles? Should he, Manley and Baker move to a new era in the Jamaica's 400 and 4x400 history? Or could he move beyond the Olympic silver medals won by Winthrop Graham and Danny McFarlane? 2014 will begin to reveal the answers.

Hubert Lawrence has been covering sports since 1987.



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