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.

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