Brian Pitter

Fri, 22 May 2020

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Olympic hurdler and Wolmerian Jaheel Hyde told Stream during an instagram live interview that he would not have chosen Track & Field over Football if he had to make a decision today. 

It’s just over four years since the 23-year-old was at the center of a national debate, where his future as a professional athlete was hotly discussed by sports enthusiasts, pundits and even family members. Hyde was equally excelling at both football and Track & Field during his tenure at Wolmer’s Boys’ High School and as his time at the institution drew to a close, he realized that he had to choose one sport in order to solidify and focus on a career path. 

Hyde’s decision to subsequently go with Track & Field left many football fans disappointed as they believed he could have followed in the footsteps of his legendary father Lenworth “Lenny” Hyde Sr, who was a former football player himself and represented the national team on numerous occasions.

Hyde Sr, who was rumored to be upset with the decision, was in fact not as disappointed according to Jaheel, who stated that his father wanted to allow him to be free to make whatever decision suited him best. 

However, during an Instagram live with Stream, Hyde confessed that he chose Track because there were more opportunities in the sport at the time in comparison to football. Fast forward to 2020, Hyde admits that there are way more opportunities for football players to excel than there has ever been and this would have influenced his decision. 

“If it was now, I would definitely choose football because more opportunities are opening up for football players.” He confessed.

It is true, we are seeing more Jamaican born and bred players given chances to excel abroad and showcase their talents. The interest in our young Jamaican players have grown exponentially within the last few years, perhaps due to the emergence of one Leon Bailey, who is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the world or even due to the success of the National team in recent Gold Cup appearances.

We have also seen many more Jamaicans securing European contracts now than ever before, namely Damion Lowe (IK Start, Norway), Dever Orgill (MKE Ankaragücü, Turkey), Shamar Nicholson (R. Charleroi S.C, Belgium) and Kemar “Taxi” Lawrence (Anderlecht, Belgium).

The intrigue in our Jamaican players has subsequently led to more scouts turning up on the island seeking to profit from our pool of young talent. 

Though many were disappointed, Hyde’s decision to choose Track and Field was reluctantly admitted by many to be the better choice simply because of his dominance in his events at the time.

Not only that, but during the 2014 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships, Hyde broke the national youth record for the 400m hurdles in a scintillating 49.49 seconds, becoming the second Jamaican junior athlete to break the 50-second barrier in the event.

Since choosing to focus only on track & field, Hyde has qualified for both the Olympics (2016) and World Championships (2017), competing in the 400m hurdles event and finishing in the semifinals in both competitions. He also competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, where he secured his first major senior medal, getting bronze in the 400m hurdles final, running 49.16s.

Whether the debate today is still relevant, it is clear that Hyde is fully focused on making a name for himself within the arena of track & field. At just 23 and with the Olympics pushed forward to summer 2021, he has the opportunity to cement his name in Jamaican history.

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