Real or not: Can Julien Alfred’s season translate to a world title?

We’ve been here before. Many times, in fact. A Collegiate athlete comes around and blows everyone away with a breathtaking performance in the athletics circuit. Although not yet a professional runner, the times the churn out is usually up there with the very best. And mostly on top of the world rankings. 

If one runner epitomizes all of these traits in this year, it is no other than University of Texas’ Julien Alfred, who is currently running out of her skin and making waves with the way she blows her opponents out of the waters. It is domineering and scary at the same time. What she makes of it when she turns professional remains to be seen 

A native of Saint Lucia who celebrated her 22nd birthday Friday and capped one of the greatest sprint seasons in collegiate history with times of 10.72 in the 100 and 21.73 in the 200 meters. Both finals were wind-aided, but the 200 time is the fastest ever by a collegiate under any conditions.

Her talent is undeniable and bordering on otherworldly — but her physique and international experience have made some wonder out loud how she might hold her own when the world championships come up in August. Her numbers are just staggering, and at this point, she’s a shoo-in to claim medals in 100m and 200m. 

Alfred has run 10.83s for the 100m, which puts her fourth on the season’s top list, and she currently tops the standings over the 200m with her astonishing 21.91s, which she ran in April. The St. Lucian native just keeps getting better. Who says winning double Gold in Budapest is a far stretch? 

Earlier this year, Alfred did the unthinkable. The 2022 Commonwealth Games Silver medallist who has accepted the moniker “sprint queen” won the women’s 60m NCAA Indoor title in New Mexico in a newly minted World Lead, Meet Record, Collegiate Record, and Facility Record of 6.94s; it is safe to say we’ve found our next sprint star. She came within whiskers of breaking the long-standing record of Irina Privalova. 

Julian Alfred, Texas, was busy in Austin, photo by How Lao Photography

Alfred shot up to No. 2 on the all-time 200m list when she ran 22.01s to win the NCAA indoors, too. These are unchartered territory that only the very best in the sport can ever dream of achieving. 

Her style of running draws similarities to the great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, whom she will most likely go against in Budapest. The stars seem to be aligning. The Jamaican won her first Olympic title at the age of 22. Alfred clocked 22 a few days back. She might need to run faster than her current Personal Best, but who amongst the lot on the circuit would you stake a bet on to run 10.7s comfortably again this year? Surely, you can’t look past the St. Lucian. 

Just maybe this is the year Fraser-Pryce will abdicate the throne of the spring queen and hand it over to Alfred. At 36, she’s not getting any younger and will eventually have to give way to the younger ones. Although she hasn’t raced yet this year, no truly great athlete would want to relinquish her stay at the top. But age and time happen. 

Marie Josee Ta Lou and Sha’Carri Richardson also have the force to contend with. Both runners seem to look flawless in their execution of races and have comfortably run inside 10.80s more than once this season. Both are looking to win their first world title.

The 200m looks more likely for Alfred. Aside from the reigning world champion Shericka Jackson having a thing or two to say, there is a strong possibility of Alfred doing snagging that title, too.

Mitigating factors might play a part in her chances. The NCAA season is usually designed for athletes to reach their peak during the finals in June, and after winning Triple Gold in Texas this month, there is a strong feeling that she might be worn out. Abby Steiner faced the same issue last year. How Alfred will be able to manage the situation will be key.

Whether we like it or not, there will always be new generations of stars that will pop up to replace the old ones. Like life, sport is always evolving. The old making way for the new. The only difference, though is, it has to be earned. And Alfred is certainly on the right trajectory.