Hubert Lawrence | When will Taylor go sub-45?
At the 2015 Carifta Trials, Akeem Bloomfield won the Under-20 400m with a stunning circuit of the National Stadium track in 45.41 seconds. The tall Kingston College prodigy went on to do great things. Just weeks later, at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, he set a national junior record of 44.93 seconds.
History repeated itself last Sunday, as Christopher Taylor of Calabar won the 2017 Carifta Trials 400 metres in exactly 45.41 seconds. You can't help but wonder if Taylor will join Bloomfield by running the Class One 400m final faster than 45 seconds. It's an achievement some fans have been expecting for more than a year.
The waiting began when Taylor won the World U18 title in Cali, Columbia with runs of 45.30 in the semi-final and 45.27 seconds in the final. Even though Cali is just on the high side of the IAAF altitude threshold of 1000 metres, sub-45 talk gathered substance. Things didn't work out last year but that was last year. Taylor looks ready as he showed last week. First, he smiled his way to the finish in a midweek jaunt over 200m timed in 20.98 seconds to put a cherry topping on the Corporate Area Development Meet. That was his first race of the season.
Then on Sunday, he capped an eventful Carifta Trials meet, with a zippy run in the 400m.
If he does break the 45 second barrier, it probably won't be in the final at Boys and Girls Championships. He and his coach prefer trying for records before the multiple rounds of Champs take their toll. He set the Class Three record of 48.70 seconds in the heats in 2014 and the Class Two record last year in the preliminary round. He broke the Class Two 200m record early as well. That strategy also helps Taylor to dodge the sprint-unfriendly breeze that typically sweeps up the grandstand straight on Champs Saturday at the time of the 400m finals.
In 2014, Taylor's former Calabar teammate Javon Francis carved a huge 0.35 second chunk off Usain Bolt's 11 year-old Class One 400m record in front of a packed Champs Saturday crowd. Though pundits postulated that Francis' mark of 45.00 seconds would last for donkey years, Bloomfield dazzled that same Saturday throng with his record run a year later. Be warned. Taylor doesn't march to the same tune.
Put this date and time in your diary. It's March 28 at 6.45 pm. That's when the first round of the Class One 400m is set to start. Nine will get you ten that Taylor will go for 44 at that time.
Come to the 107th staging of the greatest high school championships in the world any later and you may miss it.
One question remains. So, you rightly ask, if he misses it at Champs, when will he try again? The best guess would be on July 3.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.