The London 2017 have come to an end one week ago. 
These championships were a significant mark in what concerns the place of Jamaica (and consecutively the USA) in the world stage of athletics.

The analysis of the recent results isn’t instantaneous and even less straightforward. So, if you choose to go through a summarised interpretation and prediction of this theme, take a seat and let me show you the way I look at the current situation in the sprint disciplines.

In 2008, Fraser-Pryce and Bolt went to Beijing to show the world that the sprint were for the Jamaicans in the famous “JAlympics”. Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell had been shaping this moment for some years and some time later this generation was joined by stars like Yohan Blake and Elaine Thompson.

Now, Bolt laid on the track seems to represent the halt in a period of hegemony. 

What is there to speculate about the close future of athletics in this Caribbean country? Let’s first take a look at the still-fresh results from the London Olympic stadium.

On the women’s side, Elaine Thompson was living the moment of her career after last year’s sprint double and was the main hope of the Jamaicans. Despite having opted to focus on the shortest race, she was actually showing good signs, with a world-leading time of 10.71 seconds).  When it came to the final, however, a 10.98 placed her in a disappointing 5th place from the top.
No Jamaicans qualified to the 200 metres final.
Thompson didn’t participate in the 4×100 metres relay either and a bronze was the final result. The longer relay saw the Jamaican women going no further than the second leg.
In the 400 metres hurdles, Ristananna Tracey clinched a bronze too. On the one-lap, three athletes made it to the final but occupied the bottom spots in that race.

On the men’s side, Bolt made the same decision of putting it all in the 100 metres. A very modest third place – which wasn’t what “The Lightning” sought to put an end to his track career – awarded him a bronze medal, behind two men from the USA (Gatlin and Coleman)
The 200 metres saw no Jamaican coming to the final, which registered the slowest winning time since 2003.
The “salvation” came really from the 110 metres hurdles, where Omar McLeod clinched the only gold medal for the country.
The longer relay didn’t get to the final and the 4×100 was the infamous one that put Bolt on the floor while Great Britain went for the victory.
I am of the opinion that the fact that Omar McLeod was part of the relay team shows how Jamaican athletics is going through a bad phase. The hurdler is indeed quick – remember that he was the first sub-13 hurdler to go bellow 10 seconds on the 100m – but that shouldn’t be enough to earn a place in a sprint nation like Jamaica.

Summing it up, Jamaica went from 11 medals to 4 and from 6 golds to a single one between 2016 and 2017!!
Now, who do we have left? Was this nothing but bad luck or is Jamaica in need of a new generation of sprinters?

Well, Omar McLeod is here to stay! He was Olympic champion at 22 and still seems to be on fire.
Bolt, Powell and Campbell-Brown are finished with their track career now.
Blake had a chance and was unlucky. After being regarded as “the next Bolt”, injury pulled him away from a peak and is now 27 and probably too old to progress significantly, despite a possible medal in future championships (he was fourth in both Rio 2016 and London 2017).
Elaine Thompson is, form me, the actual doubt. Having emerged as “the new generation” alongside Dafne Schippers she seemed to be just edging the Dutch from what we saw in the Rio Games, but that has proven not definite with the opposite results which she obtained in London.
Even though Thompson may put in some great performances again (and I truly believe this is the most likely possibility), that won’t be enough to mask the decrease in the medal haul.

Despite the apparent low which Jamaica seems to be on the edge of, let us not forget how the conditions can change very quickly!
Just remember that Bolt had run the 100m in 10.03 in 2007 and that he was running a 9.69 world record the following year, despite turning to the side and slapping his chest before crossing the finish line!

The next great Jamaican sprinter can be just around the corner!!

[Photos: AFP – Olivier Morin & Getty Images]

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