Oblique Seville, his near misses, and the future of Jamaica’s male sprinting

 

When Oblique Seville placed fourth in the men’s 100m final at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, the Jamaican came through the mixed zone with what psychologists call emotional depression. Perhaps the young man felt he had let down a nation that held its hopes high for its first medal in the blue-riband event since Usain Bolt last stood on the podium in 2017.

Since then, there have been two more world championships and no Jamaican on the podium. However, the women have continued to carry the flag of the Island nation on the world stage, with the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson doing great exploits in their events. However, there seems to be a stagnation and a lack of ability for the men to match up to the big boys at the global level.

Oblique Seville ran a terribly fast 60m outdoors in February 2023, photo by adidas running.

Against that backdrop, Seville felt a tinge of disappointment when he missed out on the podium by four-thousandths of a second, placing fourth in the final. A similar outcome befell the 22-year-old in 2022 when he couldn’t edge out the American trio of Fred Kerley, Marvin Brace, and Trayvon Bromell in the final in Oregon. Still, he knew there were lessons to be learned.

“Many things happened to me this season, including setbacks, but I was glad to attend this Championships. I know the performance can be better, so It’s just for me to do better the next time I come on this stage”. Seville said that after he had placed fourth in the finals in Budapest,

adidas welcomes Oblique Seville, from adidas running, January 2023.

The stage Seville is talking about will be the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. Certainly, he isn’t put on the same pedestal as the likes of Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt, but the word in Kingston has it that he’s highly rated to the extent that the legendary Coach Glen Mills decided to take him under his wings. Surely, he didn’t wow many as a teenager, but sprinters have different maturing stages, and for Seville, it seems he knows how to match it with the big boys, as seen by his 9.86s clocking in the heats in Budapest.

Undoubtedly, the pressure will get bigger next year as it is an Olympic year. Having only made the semis of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Seville will set his sights on putting behind him the near misses to get off the mark.

“Performance is what drives everyone to continue to support you. The fans can see that I have improved with each championship, and I know it will get better.”

Of course, any attempt by the Jamaicans to replicate what they achieved with Asafa Powell, Bolt, and Blake will be resisted, as seen with this year’s track season, but it’s increasingly looking like they have a pool of athletes who can match up with the very best. Seville, with his near misses spurring him on, leads this ensemble, determined to carve his name in history as the torchbearer of Jamaican sprinting’s new era.

One aspect that Seville needs to improve on has to be his Personal Best of 9.86. He needs to get through the 9.7s threshold if he needs to be taken seriously, and more importantly, he needs to be very consistent with it.

Oblique Seville, adidas Atlanta City Games, May 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

His tenacity and hunger for success echo throughout the sprinting community in Jamaica, a nation renowned for producing sprinting legends. Alongside Seville, a cohort of promising talents has emerged, each carrying the dreams of a country eager to see the legacy of sprinting excellence continue.

Another male sprinter looking to end that snag for Jamaica is Ackeem Blake. Blake has recently pushed himself forward with his fine indoor performance, notching Bronze at the just-concluded World Indoor Championships in Glasgow. He also broke the Jamaican indoor record over 60m, running 6.42 in February. Having missed last year’s Worlds, he’s surely a shoo-in for a medal in Paris.

Rohan Watson, Ryiem Forde, and Kishane Thompson —these young sprinters embody the next generation of Jamaican sprinting. Their names whispered in hopeful anticipation, carrying the weight of expectation and aspirations similar to Seville’s quest. They train relentlessly, fueled by ambition and the desire to follow in the footsteps of their illustrious predecessors.

Watson’s explosive strides, Forde’s raw speed, Thompson’s impeccable technique, and Blake’s unwavering determination have sparked excitement and optimism within Jamaica’s sprinting circles. These athletes have showcased glimpses of brilliance, igniting imaginations and fueling discussions about the future of Jamaican sprinting.

Bolt and Blake’s legacy will continue to reverberate through the island nation, inspiring generations. Now, Seville and his contemporaries carry the hopes and dreams of a nation—a nation that breathes sprinting, a nation that believes in the enduring power of its athletes to conquer the world once more.

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