The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Future NOW

Jul 7th, 2018
1:23 pm PST

The US sprint corp has been aging for some time now. The world has been mourning the retirement of Usain Bolt, but the truth is that America’s best for more than a decade are right behind him. Consider that our top sprinter last year, World Champion Justin Gatlin, was 25 years old. Remarkably his title came 13 years after his Olympic title in Athens!

Our global medal hopes have been in the hands of Gatlin, Allyson Felix, Tyson Gay, LaShawn Merritt, Sanya Richards Ross, Wallace Spearmon, and a few others for well over a decade. Begging the question, what happens when they retire? Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had athletes attempt to step up to full the void. Tori Bowie emerged just as Carmelita Jeter ended her career. And Trayvon Bromell medalled in the 100 in 2015. Though injuries have placed a question mark over him since.

While the US dominated track and field at the Rio Games however, it was done without much help from our sprinters and hurdlers. Enter 2018! Because beginning with the indoor season, and continuing right through Nation Championships season, American youth have been putting on a show! Consider the following list of PB’s and season’s bests set by young sprinters and hurdlers of college age:

  • Noah Lyles – 9.88/19.69
  • Michael Norman – 19.84/43.61/(43.05r)
  • Rai Benjamin – 19.99/44.74/47.02h/43.5r
  • Cameron Burrell – 9.93
  • Jaylen Bacon – 9.97
  • Elijah Hall – 20.11
  • Nathon Strother – 44.34
  • Kahmari Montgomery – 44.58
  • Grant Holloway – 13.15h/(43.5r)
  • Kenny Selman – 48.12h
  • Sydney McLaughlin – 22.39/50.07/52.75h/(49.4r)
  • Jasmin Camacho Quinn – 12.40h
  • Shakima Whimbley – 49.52
  • Lynna Irby – 22.25/49.80
  • Kendall Ellis – 49.99
  • Gabby Thomas – 11.19/22.32
  • Aleia Hobbs – 10.90

Add to that impressive list a trio of Collegiate Record setting relay squads:

  • USC – 2:50.00
  • Houston – 38.12
  • LSU – 42.02

These kids are ready to medal at Worlds and the Olympics right now! No offense to the “Old Guard” of American sprinting/hurdling but write down the above names, because these kids are going to bring home the medals that we’ve been “allowing” others to take home for several majors now. This may sound a tad cocky, but in the next championship cycle, the US will return to its rightful place as the world’s leading sprint/hurdle nation. Medals we’ve lost in events like the 200, 4×1, and high hurdles, that drought is going to be rendered history.

I’m also excited for another reason, they’re very well spoken and marketable! Especially, in my opinion, McLaughlin, Lyles, Thomas, Norman, Benjamin and Holloway. These youngsters are a marketers dream. Like the departing Bolt, they’re tied into the world of the internet and social media – and they understand how to use it. Just what the doctor ordered for the lagging interest in the sport here in the US. If they are marketed properly they most certainly will help raise awareness of track and field in America. And with the Olympics right around the bend, and the US at to host an upcoming World Championships, their arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m looking forward to their success both on and off the field.Thomas

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