Finally a breakthrough, the clock registered 19.97 seconds. This was a lifetime best, his first sub-20 seconds in the 200m. Julian Forte had won a closely contested 200m battle in the Brussels Diamond League on Friday. Forte, the 23 year old Jamaican sprinter, narrowly defeated Great Britain‘s Adam Gemili who also posted identical time of 19.97 seconds with the Netherland’s Martina Churandy finishing in third in 19.98 seconds. Gemili's time of 19.97 seconds was also a lifetime best.. By virtue of his 19.97 Brussels performance, Forte became the latest Jamaican to join the likes of Usain Bolt (19.19), Yohan Blake (19.26) among others to go sub-20 seconds in the 200m. Forte is trained by coach Stephen Francis at the MVP Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica. His 19.97 seconds performance was a satisfying end to the 2016 season marred by ups and downs.
After leading his Jamaican 4x100m relay team to victory over the United States at the Penn Relay in late-April, Forte false-started in the preliminary rounds of the 100m at the Jamaican National Trials in late-June and thereby eliminated his chance of competing in the individual 100m at the Rio Olympics. But the resilient former Wolmer's Boy's High school athlete ran very well in the 200m finals to finish third in 20.45 seconds. Forte posted the same time as Nickel Ashmeade who finished second behind winner Yohan Blake (20.19). Forte's third place finish was significant, as only the top-two finishers would join world record holder, Usain Bolt, in the individual 200m. Forte was, however, selected to compete in the 200m as an alternate. Forte did not see any action in Rio, and left Rio without a medal.
On the Rise
But the former CARIFTA long jump and triple jump champion did not lose hope. On September 6 at the Rovereto meet in Europe, Forte ran 9.97 seconds (+2.3 mps) to win the 100m ahead of St Kitts Kim Collins (10.01) and Great Britain's Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (10.19). This was the second time this year (2016) that Forte had gone sub-10 seconds in the 100m; both times were wind-aided (above the +2.0 mps threshold). In March 2016, Forte ran 9.94 seconds (+2.2 mps) at the GC Foster College meet in Jamaica. Forte's personal best time in the 100m still stands at 10.03 seconds, which he set in Kingston back in May 2014. Under the watchful eyes of Stephen Francis, it's just a matter of time before this talented sprinter officially joins the sub-10 seconds club. Forte’s 19.97 seconds 200m Brussels performance is the direct result of persistency and perseverance. With things coming together for Forte at the end of the season, one cannot wait to see what he will do next season.
Edited by Raymond Byfield
Julian Forte at the 2016 Penn Relay, picture by O'Neil A. Reid
Watch Forte winning the 2016 Brussels 200m in 19.97 seconds