The unassuming 26-year-old sprinter Nesta Carter is again flying under the radar. The Jamaican sprint jet, one of the most accomplished sprinters of his generation, is focusing on an even bigger breakthrough this year, particularly at the summer London Olympics.
Carter attended Manchester High School and despite not winning an individual title at Boys Champs, he made credible improvements each year. Although he is known primarily as a 100m runner, he has a personal best (PB) 20.25secs in the 200m, a race he rarely contests. He gives much credit to coach Stephen Francis and the coaching staff at MVP club (Maximizing Velocity and Power), based at the University of Technology, in Kingston, for his current status as one of the world’s best.
Known for his explosive starts, the athlete gained his first measure of major international success at the 2007 Osaka, Japan World Championships, by leading off the Jamaican men’s 4x100m relay team to a silver medal. Many track purists consider him a critical member of any relay team. He is a 4x100m relay double World champion, Olympic relay champion and two-time 4x100m world record holder. His starts are phenomenal and are perhaps second only to his teammate Asafa Powell’s, who is considered the best in the world in that regard.
At a press briefing held in New York recently to announce Carter’s performance at last Saturday night’s US Open track and field event at Madison Square Garden, he affirms that he is well on his way back to the form of summer 2010, when he ran 9.78secs for his pet event, and became the fourth fastest man of all time, behind world record holder Usain Bolt (9.58secs), American Tyson Gay (9.69secs), and former world record holder Asafa Powell (9.72secs). He has been a staple among the Top Ten best sprinters in the world since 2008, as ranked by Track and Field News, dubbed the Bible of the Sport because of its thorough analyses and coverage of the sport.
Overlooked, Underated, but...
Despite all of his fame, he feels that he is overlooked and underrated, which suits him just fine because he has a measure of privacy - the ability to train undeterred. “I wonder sometimes how it would be if I were born before these guys.” ‘These guys’ to whom Carter refers are his compatriots, the aforementioned Bolt and Powell, and most recently the sensational Yohan Blake, who became world champion at 21 years old. Carter understands how difficult it will be to make the Jamaican 100m team to London – there are at least a half a dozen men with strong credentials, not least among them is 2011 Pan American champion Lerone Clarke, also the 2010 Commonwealth Games victor. But as Carter tells it: “It is not who is fastest; it is the person who performs best on the day.”
The quiet and affable Carter explains that he started running track at a very young age, probably at nine years old. He also explained that had he not become a track athlete he might have become a cricketer or an educator.
Asked how he thought he might perform at Saturday’s US Open despite the presence of the fancied Powell, Carter deadpanned, “I intend to win.” The athlete, who can become philosophical, said he would like to be known as someone who made something out of nothing. “I want to be known as someone who came into the sport and made something out of nothing. I would like that story to be compelling and inspiring to anyone who cares to know, or to anyone who reads about it.” That legacy is in motion. Achievements on the track aside, he is a proud recipient of Jamaica’s fifth highest honor, the Order of Distinction (O.D.) for his contribution to the sport.
At the US Open on Saturday night, Carter, the defending champion, failed by a hairsbreadth to overcome the popular Asafa Powell in the 50m dash. Powell clocked 5.64secs to Carter’s 5.67secs, two of the fastest times run in more than 10 years. As he readies for the Jamaican Trials and ultimately the London Games, prepare for a massive change of fortune for Carter, his fans, and for all of Jamaica. His days of being under the radar might well be numbered. And making something
out of nothing would be a major understatement.