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Should Bailey-Cole Run The 400m?


He has often been described as the carbon copy of his training partner, the storied Usain Bolt, but aside from long, gangly limbs, there is no comparison between the two. Bolt is an inch taller at 6′ 5″ and a whopping 24 pounds heavier. Bolt hails from northwest Jamaica, Falmouth, Trelawny. The protagonist is from southeastern Jamaica, St. Catherine – opposite sides of the track, so to speak.

A few years ago, before the world truly felt the seismic impact of the Lightning, track goddess Merlene Ottey declared that Usain Bolt would be Jamaica’s greatest ever sprinter. Today, about ten years later, prophecy fulfilled. Legendary sprint coach Glen Mills suggested that his young charge, Kemar Bailey-Cole would be ‘the next big thing.’ About three years removed from that declaration and the would-be hero has not yet hit his stride.



I met Bailey-Cole briefly at the May 25, 2013 Adidas Grand Prix, New York Diamond League meet, at Icahn Stadium. I was immediately struck by his modesty, measured tone and his almost retiring personality. In speaking with the sprinter, one gets the impression that he is not yet comfortable with the media. During my interview of him conducted after his tepid 10.33secs seventh place finish in the 100m behind Tyson Gay (10.02secs), Ryan Bailey (10.15secs) and Keston Bledman (10.24secs) on that unusually cold, damp and dank May afternoon, he spoke cautiously about being the best Kemar Bailey-Cole that he can be and that there was no pressure from the Bolt comparison, as he was only focused on himself.

One of the on-and-off-the-track successes of Usain Bolt is his ability to ‘conquer’ the media and get his point across, without sounding arrogant or haughty, which are well known traits of people who have achieved unparalleled success, sprinters chief among them. Bailey-Cole, however, prefers not to be the center of attention, as he concentrates on fulfilling the mandate he has set for himself: to be the best that he can be. He spoke candidly about the depth of his training and his belief in his handlers, plus his feeling of being right where he needed to be, as he mounted a challenge at the world’s best.

Kemar Bailey-Cole was born on January 10, 1992, and to watch his effortless strides as he motors to the finish of a century dash in an almost gazelle style, the Bruce Springsteen anthem, Born to Run becomes appropriate. He currently has a personal best (PB) of 9.93secs, which I expect to get significantly faster within another year or two at most. As a 20-year-old, he won an Olympic relay gold medal, as a substitute, in London, as a member of Jamaica’s men’s sprint relay team. He achieved a similar result at the 2013 World Championships, in Moscow, Russia.

With his quiet confidence, I think what he has achieved so far is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Incidentally, I think with proper training, he could develop and challenge all-comers in the longer sprints. I predict he could easily develop into a sub 44.00secs 400m runner. But first, we should wait some more for that Glen Mills prediction to come to fruition.

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