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26 JUL 2014 Feature Eugene, USA

Friday gets redemption for missing tilt at 100m title

200m winner Trentavis Friday at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014 (Getty Images)200m winner Trentavis Friday at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014 (Getty Images) © Copyright

When Trentavis Friday crossed the 200m finish line first at the IAAF World Junior Championships, he became the first US sprinter to win that event in the lifetime of any of the competitors. The last US win came in 1994, when Tony Wheeler took the title in 20.62.

Friday hadn’t been born yet.

The 200m at the World Juniors hasn’t been kind to US sprinters at all for most of the past two decades, with the silver and bronze for Aaron Ernest and Tyreek Hill in 2012 the first medals of any colour since Wes Felix, Allyson’s brother, won bronze in 2002.

When Friday settled into the blocks, however, he didn’t have Wheeler in mind; just the bend and straight to run faster than the seven other lanes.

“It was windy today but I just wanted to try to win the race,” Friday said afterwards. “Time didn't matter, fast is fast and I just wanted to win today. My curve is strong.”

To put a number on how fast fast really was: Friday’s winning time of 20.04 will not stand as a national junior record, only because the tailwind of 2.3m/s was greater than the allowable 2.0m/s. The current national junior record, a 20.07 by Lorenzo Daniel, was set in 1985, 10 years before Friday was born.

Friday’s curve was indeed strong, and he had the race effectively won in the first 100m with only Michael O’Hara threatening him off the curve but the Jamaican was already going backwards and was overhauled by Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru in the final 50 metres for the silver.

“The crowd is a big deal in a race like that,” Friday said about his home country advantage. “Hearing them screaming louder and louder really helped me finish with the win.”

Before competition began, Friday didn’t draw much attention in the shadow of Trayvon Bromell and his 9.97 to-be-ratified world junior 100m record, but perhaps he should have.

False start frustration

At the US Junior Championships here in Eugene at the beginning of July, Friday clocked a 10.00 100m in the semi-finals. It was, and still is, the second-fastest junior mark ever at 100m.

But a false start in the final cost him a place on the US team in that event, and Friday had to wait for the 200m to make his mark at the IAAF World Junior Championships.

A native of Cherryville, North Carolina, Friday finished his high school career this spring and will start at Florida State University in the autumn.

At FSU, he will be a team-mate of fellow world junior champion Kendal Williams, the 100m winner on Wednesday.

In the course of the spring high school season, Friday won three individual North Carolina titles, at 100m, 200m, and 400m, the last in 47.87, then anchored the winning 4x400m relay team.

In national high school competition, he won two indoor titles and one outdoor.

He was recognised as the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year for athletics, an award bestowed on Bromell the previous year.

Friday’s 2014 season has been by far his best, with only his 400m best of 46.97 surviving from 2013. Friday got more serious about his training in his final year at school, telling a reporter earlier this year: “I laugh when I see a race from my junior year because my technique is better now and I'm stronger.”

Friday’s form is likely to continue to improve under the guidance of coach Bob Braman at FSU.

Braman was responsible for the development of Walter Dix, silver medallist at 100m and 200m at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea.

Parker Morse for the IAAF