BIRMINGHAM, England — Racers Track Club coach Glen Mills has expressed surprise at Jason Young's shock 19.86 seconds in winning the 200m race at a meet in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The former William Knibb High athlete, who previously showed much promise but had failed to live up to his potential, achieved two personal bests on Tuesday as he also ran 10.06 seconds in the 100m B final earlier.
Young's 200m time is joint all-time third best by a Jamaican — tied with 1976 Olympic champion Donald Quarrie, who ran the same time at high altitude in California in August 1971.
Only Bolt's world record 19.19 and Yohan Blake's 19.26 done last year are ahead of Young.
The Jamaican also tied the personal records of Americans Maurice Green and Justin Gatlin in clocking the third best time in the world this year — behind Blake's 19.80 and Bolt's 19.83 at the National Senior Trials, where he, too, was a finalist.
When the Jamaica Observer caught up with Mills while he was doing personal exercise regime just outside the pre-Olympic camp at the University of Birmingham on Wednesday, he admitted that while he had expected Young to dip under 20 seconds, "19.86 is fantastic".
Young clipped an astonishing 0.56 seconds from his previous best of 20.42.
Mills, who also oversees the training programmes for Bolt and Blake, as well as up-and-coming sprinters Warren Weir and Kemar Bailey-Cole, told the Observer that Young has always showed promise and that he did well to win a medal at the World Students Games in China last year.
"Jason has been promising from last year and had been doing fairly well. He competed at the Students Games (and) was impressive in the early rounds but did not quite carry through... in the finals," Mills said.
The veteran coach said the former William Knibb man, who was expected by some to take up the mantle from Bolt, "doesn't really have a strong background or history of competition, so what we are seeing is the development," Mills explained.
He added: "He is very good, very talented, and I would say he has places to go."
Mills admitted that while the 19.86 might appear to be a "sudden ascension", the Racers staff had been expecting fast times from Young for at least a year now.
Asked whether hitting this peak may not have been a few weeks late, after the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials, Mills grudgingly conceded.
"Yes, it might be a bit too late for his Olympic aspirations," he said, but pointed out that track and field might not have been Young's priority.
"He is a full-time student at UWI Mona and one of the challenges is the dealing with academics (while competing)," he explained.
"He is a very bright student and exams came at a crucial time leading up to Trials... They study sometimes all night in the May period and he was jaded coming into Trials and did not give of his best.
"Now exams are over and he has been over here (Europe) about two weeks now and has been training extremely well, and so I had expected him run well," he said.
Mills said Young's 100m time in Switzerland was a good indicator that he was ready to run fast.
"19.86 seconds was maybe not what I expected — maybe 19.90-something or thereabouts, but when I saw how fast he had dropped his time in the 100m, this is normally a sign that he is going to run a fast 200m because the 200m is his better race at the moment, so I expected him to go under 20 seconds, but 19.86 is fantastic," Mills gushed.
Young joins a cadre of fast young talent at the UWI based Racers Club who will be seeking to replace the kings of speed in the island, including Bolt, Blake and Asafa Powell, and Mills thinks it is a good situation for the country to be in.
"...I'm not surprised that they (Young, Weir and Bailey-Cole) are running so fast," he said of what appears to be a sudden explosion.
"Our numbers have increased and we pride ourselves that we have a great sprint programme that can stand up to any in the world, and these youngsters are highly motivated as they are training amongst the best in the world and they themselves are very talented," he declared.
Mills inadvertently gave an indication of what is to come when he said: "I think it's even going to get more intense (at Racers) with young (Jazeel) Murphy going professional after next summer and (IAAF World Junior 200m champion) Delano Williams also indicating he wants to join us as well."
He described Williams, who ran for the Turks And Caicos Islands in Barcelona, Spain, last week and who also competed at the British Olympic Trials, as "a fine young sprinter and we will welcome him at Racers".
Staffing would also not be an issue with the newcomers joining those who are already at the burgeoning athletic outfit, Mills pointed out, "We have about seven coaches now with the addition of Jermaine Shand of Camperdown High... He is very knowledgeable in the sprints and has been doing very well so far, so we are geared up to take on a few more sprinters," he said.