Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Memorable 4x400m anchor-leg showdown

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 3:00 AM

Champs 2016 and all that it offered has disappeared into the pages of history. Some will label what was experienced at the National Stadium to close out last week "the best ever".

Whether it was or not, the sweet aroma lingering about the accomplishments of one little man will last for some time.

Christopher Taylor, along with his now five straight triumphant team, answered the call of Calabar High in strident terms.

Coming into the 106th staging of the world-acclaimed spectacle, the 16-year-old sensation held the title of World Youth champion. The status was rooted in a 45.27-second mark over the 400 metres in Cali, Colombia, last year.

His mind set on records, he got them out of the way in that and the 200m from the preliminary rounds. A crowded slate of final-day expectations had to be properly handled.

He had the benefit of a coach, Michael Clarke, who had prescribed and dispensed this and even more arduous diets for athletes under his care, several times over. Throughout the journey, the young man, who is nicknamed 'Cubby', coupled calm and composure with humility.

With thoughts of personal marks summarily dismissed, he entered the final day with a new agenda - securing points to distance the green and black from their threatening purple-clad rivals of Kingston College (KC).

On two occasions, he sauntered to his accustomed front spot and after crossing the line, pulling his teammate into second spot to register 16 points total in both the half- and one-lap outings.

With the title race decided, the now competition-soaked speed demon was again summoned to further service. There would be no flinching. The feeling from all who supported him was that when you are called to serve, you do so with determination, diligence and a spirit of devotion to duty.

HERE,SIR!

As such, he valiantly stood to attention, upright in stance and quoted from his school song, Here, Sir!.

Controlled sprinting and safe exchanges, typifying the 40-zero timed 4x100m relay, the last hurrah of the mile relay, required a little bit more to be truthful, considerably more.

Kingston College, overall defeat, conceded wanted bragging rights from the traditional final event. To cement this, they brought out the six-foot-five-inch Akeem Bloomfield, the national junior 400m record holder with a Champs 2015 time of 44.93.

A very talent-protective coach, Neil Harrison, accustomed to preparing athletes who were touching on world class, had made some early declarations. Bloomfield would be kept in mothballs, saved from the usual 200-400m double, plus relays by omitting him from the furlong.

The World Junior Championships and for his charge to be booked on the Rio Olympics flight, were of paramount importance.

The fact that Bloomfield lined up to anchor the flagship event was less of a departure from that template and more a resolve to send a message to the runaway Calabar train. Built into all that thought process, was the school motto: 'The brave may fall, but never yield'.

Kingston College, so long hunting a major schoolboy title, had fallen yet again.

However, to yield would fly in the face of a potent school culture.

History will record that the Christopher Taylor dynamo received the baton on the final pass zero metres ahead of Bloomfield. Make that 12 metres following a Kingston College handover stutter.

Bloomfield was not long in taking sight of the deficit and zoomed in on Taylor, catching, passing, and putting on his own five-metre lead by the end of the back straightaway.

With close to 150 metres for home, the head-bandied Taylor detonated. He eased closer to the new leader and Bloomfield got weaker in his golden pursuit.

Young Chris got stronger, breezing past a now struggling Bloomfield to bring the gold to Red Hills Road by three metres. It was a telling strike that outshone the fireworks display that was yet unborn.

It made Champs 2016 the memorable event that it will remain.

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