Sun | Oct 22, 2017

The new 4x400m hero

Published:Wednesday | August 31, 2016 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Nathon Allen arriving home from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last Wednesday, August 24.
Jamaica's 4x400 metres quartet (from left) Nathon Allen, Peter Matthews, Javon Francis and Fitzroy Dunkley who won the silver medal at the recent Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
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It may have gone unnoticed, but Nathon Allen has joined Davian Clarke and Javon Francis as a 4x400-metre maestro.

Running in the heats at the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Allen propelled Jamaica into the final with a third leg concluded in 43.5 seconds. That matched past performances by Clarke and Francis and earmarked Allen as a relay hero.

Clarke and Francis ran their 43.5 relay carries in the finals of the 1997 and 2015 World Championships respectively. Based on electronic timing, Clarke still has the edge at 43.51 while Francis and Allen were both electronically timed at 43.52 seconds.

That smooth-striding run by Allen, the former Claude McKay and St Jago High school ace, makes him the fifth Jamaican to break 44 seconds on the relay. He joins Clarke, Greg Haughton, Seymour Newman and Francis as Jamaicans to run relays of such speed. Newman was the first with a 43.8 in the 1976 Olympics. Clarke matched that in the heats of the 1995 World Championships.

In that race, Michael McDonald, Clarke, Dennis Blake and McFarlane became the first Jamaican quartet to break three minutes.

The Clarke sub-44 portfolio also includes a 43.81 clocking that took Jamaica to the bronze in the 2005 Worlds and a 43.88 to seal the silver medal at the 1999 Worlds. Haughton's sub-44 was an urgent 43.88 to connect Jamaica to second place in the 2001 World Championships.

The fastest 4x400 leg on record is the 42.9 second anchor by outstanding American Michael Johnson at the 1993 World Championship. That closed a world record run of 2 minutes 54.29 seconds.

In the Olympic final, Allen contributed a 44.00 flat second leg as Jamaica took the silver medals. Francis closed with a 43.8 anchor leg, his second sub-44 relay run. The official split times for Peter Matthews, who did the lead-off, and Fitzroy Dunkley who was on third leg duty, were 45.5 and 44.82 seconds, respectively.

Allen finished second for St Jago in the Class One 400 metres at Boys and Girls' Championships. He set his personal best of 45.30 seconds in pursuit of Akeem Bloomfield of Kingston College. Bloomfield broke Francis' one- year-old record of 45.00 with an outstanding time of 44.93 seconds.