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Hubert Lawrence: Men’s 400 - looking forward

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2015 | 6:00 AMHubert Lawrence, Contributor
Jamaica’s men’s 4x400m (from left): Davian Clarke, Sanjay Ayre, Michael Blackwood and Jermaine Gonzales celebrate after defeating the United States’ Blue team at the Penn Relays in 2005.

Twenty years ago, the men's 400 metres was a highlight of the 1995 National Championships. Greg Haughton and Danny McFarlane became the first Jamaicans to run under 45 seconds for the distance on local soil.

Haughton went on to win individual medals at every major tournament and with McFarlane, Davian Clarke and Michael McDonald, restored Jamaican honour in the 4x400 metres.

With them on duty, Jamaica was all but guaranteed a medal in the relay at the World Championships and at the Olympic, Commonwealth and Pan-Am Games.

They weren't alone as worthy men like Roxbert Martin, Michael Blackwood, Brandon Simpson and Sanjay Ayre all played key roles at different times. Even now, because of them, Jamaica holds the 4x400m records at the Pan-Am and Commonwealth Games.

When they arrived, Jamaica hadn't won a World or Olympic 4x400m medal since the 1991 World Championships.

This year's National Championships finds Jamaica's 400/4x400 fortunes in much better health. Recent sub-45 men Javon Francis and Rusheen McDonald were on duty with Edino Steele, Omar Johnson and Javere Bell when Jamaica won its second World 4x400m medal - a silver - in a row in 2013.

In 2011, Jamaica was third, with Allodin Fothergill, Jermaine Gonzales, Riker Hylton and Leford Green doing the job.

 

2014 title

Last year's national champion, Akheem Gauntlett, ran 45 to win his 2014 title. If he is fit, he has a good chance to break 45. Add schoolboy sensations Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen, Christopher Taylor and World Youth and Youth Olympic champion Martin Manley and the supply line looks pretty good.

In 2005, at the Nationals, Ayre ran 44.97 and finished just fourth.

Lansford Spence ran 44.77 seconds to win ahead of Simpson, 44.83 Blackwood 44.93 and Ayre.

Perhaps the 2015 National Championship will produce a men's 400-metre final of similar depth and quality.

The greater hope is that it will introduce a period of prominence like the one that started with Haughton and McFarlane in 1995.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.