Francis matches fastest Jamaican 4x400m relay leg ever
Though his effort left Jamaica just short of a medal in Sunday's World Championship 4x400-metre final, Javon Francis produced a sterling anchor-leg effort.
As he did to rescue a silver medal in the same event two years ago, the 21-year-old national champion charged into the lead.
In the 2013 World Championships, his anchor was timed at 44 seconds flat. On Sunday, he was even faster at 43.5 seconds.
That matched the fastest hand-timed relay split ever, a 43.5 by renowned baton genius Davian Clarke, to finish a national record run of two minutes, 56.75 seconds in the 1997 World Championships.
When more precise electronic times are considered, Clarke retains the lead by 0.01, 43.51 to 43.52 for Francis.
In 1997, Michael McDonald, Greg Haughton, Danny McFarlane, and Clarke got the silver medal, as did Rusheen McDonald, Edino Steele, Omar Johnson, and Francis in 2013.
Unfortunately, despite the anchor leg heroics, Peter Matthews, Ricardo Chambers, McDonald, and Francis just missed a medal on Sunday.
They combined for a time of two minutes, 58.51 seconds, the same as Great Britain, but with the photo-finish camera revealing the edge for the British anchorman, Martyn Rooney.
This was Francis' first relay sub-44 clocking. He joins Clarke, Haughton and Seymour Newman as Jamaicans to produce such times on the 4x400-metre relay. Newman was the first, with 43.8 in the 1976 Olympics. Clarke matched that in the heats of the 1995 World Championships.
In that race, McDonald, Clarke, Dennis, Blake and McFarlane became the first Jamaican team to break three minutes in 4x400m relay history.
The Clarke sub-44 portfolio also includes a 43.81 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 4x400m 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 two minutes, 54.29 seconds.