It almost went unnoticed among Jamaican track and field fans when Jazeel Murphy ran 10.17 in the preliminary round of the 100m at the American Track League meeting in California on Sunday. He would run a wind-aided 10.15 in the final while finishing sixth.

The performance prompted TITANS International Coach Michael Frater to express his pride in the achievement. “Proudest moment as a coach, so far. @JazeelMurphy finally lowering his PB after almost 10 years,” Frater posted on Instagram.

It was some achievement indeed and a long road back for one of the more promising talents from just over a decade ago.

Murphy was once a standout high school sprinter at Bridgeport High School. Blessed with raw speed and electric acceleration, he was among a talented group of young sprinters like Odean Skeen and Kemar Bailey-Cole from the era of the early 2000s, who seemed destined for greater things.

“Jazeel, as a youngster was on several junior teams and ran sub 21 at Carifta,” recalled David Riley, one of the top coaches in the country. “He was one of more the more promising athletes from that era but he had some lingering issues due to differences in his leg length (but) definitely the ability was always there.”

Murphy won the U17 sprint double at the Carifta Games in St Lucia in 2009 in 10.41 and 20.97, respectively, the latter a championship record. He won the U20 100m title in Jamaica in 2011 in 10.27.

Building on his momentum and rising status as perhaps the next great sprinter from Jamaica, the former Bridgeport High School athlete, won another Carifta U20 title in Bermuda in 2012 in a very windy 10.31 (5.7m/s). He later ran 10.29s for fifth place at the World U20 Championships in Barcelona, Spain, that same year.

The future loomed bright for Murphy, who would later join the Racer’s Track Club where it was hoped he would follow in the footsteps of Usain Bolt, who by then had won his sixth Olympic gold medal. However, in the years that followed, through injury and other related issues, Murphy failed to live up to expectations and began a steady decline.

After 2012, when he ran his personal best 10.25 into a headwind of -1.2m/s in Barcelona, Murphy seemed to get slower over time. Between 2013 and 2020, Murphy ran season-best time of 10.25 in 2013, 10.65 in 2014, 10.39 in 2015, 10.50 in 2016, 10.61 in 2017, 10.51 in 2018 and 10.85 in 2020. After almost a decade, no one remembered Murphy or even cared. He had become a statistic. Another of Jamaica's talented athletes who had fallen through the cracks.

Last summer, all that began to change.

Murphy, now 27, joined TITANS International in June 2020, weighing in at a whopping 260 pounds, Coach Gregory Little revealed to Sportsmax. TV. The first order of business, Little said, was to get his weight down under a two-year plan that will see him running even faster in 2022.

“This year was about conditioning and we want to get him up and running next year, getting him back to the feeling of running fast,” said Little, who believes Murphy, now down to about 185 pounds, should be running 9.9s by 2022.

“Hopefully, he can. He is just starting to learn everything about track and field.”

The first signs of Murphy’s revival came at the Olympic Destiny meet on May 22 when he ran 10.35. The following week he ran 10.28 just off his personal best at the time. Another 10.28 followed on June 5.

At the national championships, he ran 10.34 in the preliminary round but only after coming to an almost complete stop after emerging from the blocks thinking there was a false start. Realizing his mistake, he sped down the track but ran out of room and placed fifth.

His next stop was Mission Viejo in California on Sunday where he made the breakthrough, clocking a lifetime best of 10.17.

Little is hopeful that this is just the beginning of a revival for the ages, one that could see Jazeel Murphy take a major step forward in fulfilling his true potential.

In its first information session, the NACAC Athletes Commission earlier this month, reaffirmed its commitment to becoming particularly active, increasing its visibility and working with all its athletes to address their issues and concerns.

A personal health crisis is what Olympian Michael Frater said got him interested in the medicinal benefits of cannabis and eventually led to the opening of the 4/20 Therapeutic Bliss dispensary in Manor Park, Kingston on Saturday.

Frater, 38, represented Jamaica at the senior level for more than a decade, winning gold medals as a member of Jamaica’s world-record-setting 4x100m relay teams at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011 and again at the London Olympics in 2012.

He also won a silver medal in the 100m at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. He was also a 100m champion at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.

However, about five years ago persistent problems with his knees forced him to retire.

At Saturday’s launch, he explained how those knee problems introduced him to the healing properties of cannabis.

“I had very bad knees, and I remember waking up one day, and my knees were swollen, and I couldn’t walk. I went to the University Hospital (of the West Indies) where I met with Dr (Carl) Bruce and ran some tests but nobody could figure out what was wrong,” he told the gathering that included Jamaica’s Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, former world record holder Asafa Powell and Jamaica and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.

Christopher Samuda, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association and Ali McNab, an advisor to the sports minister were also in attendance and were in rapt attention as Frater shared his harrowing experience.

“I had an IAAF (World Athletics) function in Monaco. I remember leaving on Monday and got there on Tuesday and I couldn’t even walk off the plane. They had to send a wheelchair for me,” he recalled.

Initially, doctors in Monaco believed his condition was the result of doping, he said, but subsequent tests disproved their theories even though they were still unable to determine what was the cause of the constant swelling and fluid build-up in his knees.

He spent two weeks in hospital there where doctors ‘patched’ him up enough to enable him to fly home.

A subsequent visit to a medical facility in Florida was also unable to help him get any closer to identifying what was wrong with his knees, he said which left him fearing he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

It was then that his father, Lindel Frater, suggested he tried cannabis oil. He tried it and within a month he felt ‘brand new’, he said.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential.”

Minister Grange applauded the retired Olympian and praised him for his initiative in opening the dispensary. She eventually made the first purchase of medicinal marijuana. Samuda also shared similar sentiments while praising Frater for his venture into the cannabis industry.

Gayle, meanwhile, said Frater’s venture was an example for other retired athletes to emulate.

“I am a big supporter of Michael's career and now his business venture, and from a sportsman's point of view, there is life after your original career and to actually venture in a business is good for him and we are here to support him 100 per cent,” said Gayle.

Powell, who was Frater’s teammate on several national teams, said, his friend and colleague, was always a budding entrepreneur.

“From ever since, Michael has always been the brains among all of us. He has always been driven, business-oriented. I have always admired that about him,” said the former 100m world record holder who brought his wife Alyshia along.

“It’s kind of intimidating sometimes when you’re talking to him, and he is saying some stuff I don’t even know about, so I have always known he would make this step into business.

“He keeps pushing and I am very, very happy for him.”

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