Steven Francis's Michael Bentley has big dreams in sprints

Observer writer

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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TAMPERE, Finland — Ace sprint coach Stephen Francis is a busy man at this time of the year as he prepares his stable of world-class sprinters, that includes World and Olympic gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson among others, and the sight of him in Tampere, Finland, on Sunday could be a sign that the world could be seeing the birth of yet another Jamaican speedster.

Francis, who recently stepped down as the head coach of the Mona-based MVP Track Club so he could spend more time with a handful of his sprinters, accompanied JAAA national junior sprint double champion Michael Bentley from their Lignano, Italy camp to Tampere, Finland, as the University of Technology, sprinter takes aim at the double here.

Bentley, who represented St Thomas Technical and Wolmer's Boys' School at the ISSA Championships before moving to UTech last year, shot to prominence at the JAAA National Championships three weeks ago when he took the Under-20 sprint double in personal best times of 10.30 seconds and 20.91 seconds.

He was in a good mood when he arrived at the Jamaican team hotel on Sunday and told the Jamaican media he was “going out to look for something great”, in the championships that get under way today at Tampere Stadium.

Bentley said he felt soreness after the four-day championships at which he ran almost every day, but on Sunday, after fine-tuning under the eyes of Francis in Italy, he said, “I am feeling pretty good right now, not feeling any pains right now, going out to execute just like Trials, going out to looking for something great.”

Despite his big jump in times at the Jamaican Championships, Bentley said there were still a lot of technical work to be done, especially at the start of his race.

“My start is not where I want it to be, but I have been working on it,” while admitting that it was a process that would take time.

“It took a lot of time to get to where I am now, but I have faith in God and believe in Coach and my programme and with the help of teammates I think I will do well.”

He had three good runs through the rounds at the championships, setting a then personal best 10.32 seconds in the first round, then led all runners with 10.52 seconds in the semi-finals before beating Calabar High's Michael Stevens (10.35 seconds) and Kingston College's Jhevaughn Matherson (10.37 seconds) in the final.

After his training camp in Italy, Bentley was asked what were his legs telling him. “My legs are telling me that I can run even faster,” he said with a laugh. “It would be a great achievement to get on the podium as that is what I am working towards.”

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