Jamaican sprinters Mario Forsythe and Nesta Carter were born the same month of the same year: October 1985. Seven years ago, they left the island’s 2003 Boys and Girls Track & Field Championships virtually on the same footing. Mario was 2nd with 11.00 secs in heat 5 of the Class 1 boys (16–19 years old) 100m preliminaries that advanced the first two, as well as the next 10 best times. Nesta was also 2nd in heat 6 with 11.03. The next day, Nesta was 5th with 11.01 in heat 1 of the semi-final qualifiers that advanced the top two and next best two times to the final. Mario was 6th in heat 3 with 11.08. Both failed to advance.
The results of the 200m were uncannily close again: In semi-final 1, Mario was 4th in 22.03; in semi-final 2, Nesta was 4th in 22.13. Usain Bolt won the second qualifier in 21.28. In the final, both Nesta and Mario were tied at 7th (and last) in 22.01. The race was won by Bolt in a record 20.25 secs. He (Bolt) later ran 45.35 for a record in the 400m.
Nesta Carter does sled training for
strength and drive-phase exercise.
We all know what happened with Bolt after Champs: his partying habit; his occasional dodging of training; his injuries; his move to Racers Track Club (Coach Glen Mills’ training camp); his world records and, of course, the mayhem he causes wherever he goes. Both Nesta and Mario became members of the MVP Track Club, known for molding former world record holder Asafa Powell and the 2009 World Championships sprint hurdles gold medalist Brigitte Foster-Hylton.
Nesta soon became recognized for his power and fast starts. However, he has been plagued by one problem or another in recent years when it comes around to national trails, and we are yet to see a full season of him in competition firing from all cylinders.
Notwithstanding his setbacks, Nesta’s career has grown leaps and bounds under Stephen Francis of the MVP Track Club. He has gone under 10 seconds three times with a personal best (PB) of 9.91 secs and his speed out of the blocks has rewarded him gold at the pinnacle of track and field competition as the lead-off on the 2008 Olympic world record sprint relay team, which included Michael Frater, Powell and Bolt (37.10 secs).
But while all this was going on, Mario’s career paled in contrast to Nesta’s, not to mention Bolt’s. It seemed he was left in the shadows of those with whom he had started out. To date, he has not gone below 10 and 20 seconds in the 100m and 200m respectively, and has not represented Jamaica on either the Olympic or World Championships team. For a while, he was stuck in the 10.20-30s, even after he switched training camps from MVP to Racers.
Forsythe flanked by his coach, Glen Mills
and clubmate Usain Bolt at the Penn Relays.
About a year ago though, Mario began breaking out of his cocoon slowly but surely, when on July 31 he ran 10.16 in Leverkusen, Germany. Since last year, too, he has been the 3rd leg member of the Racers 4x1 relay team with Daniel Bailey, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt that set a world-leading time of 37.47 in London last year. This year he was the lead-off on the all-Racers sprint relay quartet of Yohan Blake, Marvin Anderson and Usain Bolt that represented Jamaica (named Jamaica Gold) at The Penn Relays and lowered the meet record to 37.90. Incidentally, Nesta was the lead-off for another Jamaican team, Jamaica Black, which ran 4th..
At Penns, one commentator expressed concern about Mario, that his fastest time up until that day was 10.61. That comment was in reference to his race at the April 17 UTech Classic in Kingston, Jamaica. What the commentator failed to mention was that he did it against a massive headwind of 5.0 m/s.
In recent weeks, a resurgence is unfolding before our eyes; something new seems to be happening whenever Mario runs an individual race. On June 26, at the DAK International meeting in Germany, he clocked 10.17 secs to snatch the 100m, ahead of 2003 world champion Kim Collins from St. Kitts and Nevis in 10.20 secs. That was his seventh individual race this year and it fell just short of his year-old PB 10.16 set in Leverkusen. Then on July 10 in Belgium, Mario had a big confidence booster when he brought his 100m PB down to 10.11 in Rethymno, Greece and ran a lifetime best 20.43 secs to win the 200m ahead of American Xavier Carter (20.47) and countryman 2009 Worlds sprint relay gold medalist Steve Mullings, fourth (20.66).
Best 100m yet
The following week in Belgium, at the July 13 International Athletics Meeting, Mario continued his personal record-breaking streak, by upsetting the American Travis Padgett and beating Mullings again in the 100m. He lowered his 100m personal best again to 10.09 (0.8 m/s) with Padgett second in 10.10 and Mullings third in 10.12.
Subsequently, the 24-yr-old has continued his winning ways at the Tangiers International Athletics Meeting on July 18, taking 100m in 10.18 ahead of the Americans Leroy Dixon (10.24) and Padgett (10.41), as well as the 200m in 20.94 over Americans Xavier Carter (21.16) and Calvin Smith (21.55). But don’t dismiss the time; he ran into headwinds of 1.8m/s and 1.3 m/s, respectively.
The big question here: Is Mario turning the corner? His track record in recent times leads this writer to believe he is.
And so, I cannot help but take notice of Mario's personality on the track, which seems in direct contrast to his teammates Bolt and Yohan Blake, who bask in the spotlight. After his team’s resounding victory at Penns, his body language throughout the extended curtain call suggested he doesn’t like the limelight.
Mario’s seemingly reserved personality aside, if he keeps chipping away at his personal bests, he should become yet another Racers force to be reckoned with when the 2011 World Championships roll around. Keep watching, and don’t lose him from your radar. He's down to compete next in Stockholm this Friday, August 6.