Tue | Jan 31, 2023

Who is Jamaica’s top male athlete of 2022?

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2022 | 12:10 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Jaheel Hyde
Jaheel Hyde
 Traves Smikle
Traves Smikle
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Just before the World Cup began, there was a lively discussion online about who the Female World Athlete of the Year should be, and last week, I was asked who I thought would be the RJR/GLEANER Sportswoman of the Year. However, no one is asking who the men’s Athlete of the Year will be.

There were no individual medals for Jamaica’s men in Eugene, host city of the World Championships in July, but Oblique Seville, Christopher Taylor, Hansle Parchment, Jaheel Hyde, Fedrick Dacres, and Traves Smikle all reached finals there, with Seville fourth in the 100 metres and Hyde sixth in the 400 metres hurdles, where Hyde went for a medal and got a big personal best in the process.

New 110m hurdles prospect Rasheed Broadbell didn’t qualify for the World Championships final but later won the Commonwealth Games gold and broke 13 seconds, so he might be in contention, too. Seventh at the Worlds over 400 metres, Taylor won the NACAC title in The Bahamas with a personal best and deserves some consideration. Hyde and discus ace Smikle finished strongly with Commonwealth medals and Smikle signed off by winning at the NACAC Open.

These men have compelling stories. Parchment was undefeated until a leg injury laid him low moments before the World Championships final. Dacres battled injuries to defy expectations by reaching the World final. Seville reignited Jamaica’s proud history in the 100m, and Taylor wrestled with injuries of his own to prove that his place in last year’s Olympic final was no fluke.

However, Hyde and Smikle may well be among the frontrunners. The soft-spoken Smikle won the Nationals, reached the World final, won the Commonwealth bronze, and took gold in The Bahamas. No other Jamaican man stayed on duty all season with such returns.

Hyde survived a bout with COVID-19, which he contracted at the Rabat Diamond League meet in Morocco, ran bravely to win the Nationals before moving up to third on the all-time Jamaican performance list at 48.03 seconds in the World Championship final. Only Olympic silver medallists Winthrop Graham and Danny McFarlane stand ahead of him.

Seville ran 9.86 seconds in Kingston to grab sixth on the all-time Jamaica list, and Taylor’s 44.63 seconds at the NACAC Open makes him the 13th fastest Jamaican 400 metres man ever.

On the numbers, Broadbell is like Hyde, standing at number three on the Jamaica all-time list with only giants Omar McLeod and Parchment ahead of his new benchmark of 12.99 seconds.

Had his USA to Jamaica transfer come through sooner, 200 metres national and NACAC champion Andrew Hudson might be in this conversation, too. After all, he did win the NACAC title in 19.87 seconds.

Medals matter, but with the Parchment heartbreak and a slow start for Seville in the World 100m final, our men missed the podium in individual events at the most important meet of the year. However, they did enough good work in 2022 to merit a mention.

Hubert Lawrence has been making notes at trackside since 1980.