Steven Solomon of Australia (David Tarbottom) © Copyright
Miles Murphy won the inaugural World Junior Championships 400m title in 1986 and Australia has won three medals and achieved five top-8 places since. In the 4x400m relay Australia has claimed three medals and achieved eight top-8 places, an impressive record.
Following Murphy’s success, another western Sydney athlete Steve Perry won silver along with his relay team two years later. In 1998 Casey Vincent won silver and the relay team gold, a team which included the recently deceased Daniel Batman. Murphy and Vincent ran times of 45.64 and 45.55, a performance Solomon has matched this year. Leading NSW rock musician, Paul Greene, ran on the 1990 bronze medal winning relay team.
“It is great that Australia has done so well in the 400m and the 4x400m events at World Juniors. It corresponds to our success in the open teams, especially in the relay,” Solomon said.
At a senior level, Australia has produced 18 top-8 places at Olympics and World Championships in the 400m and 4x400m. The last Olympics or World Championships Australian 400m medalist was Rick Mitchell who claimed the silver medal in 1980. However Solomon is determined to change this.
“It is a shame it has been a while since an individual Australian has won a medal in the 400m at an Olympic or World Championships but with some hope this could change in the future,” he said.
In 2012 the hopes rest with Solomon who competed in the 4x400m relay at the 2010 World Juniors. Solomon has been in stunning form. In April he retained his national senior title and over the last 14 months has run 6 sub-46 second times, led by his personal best of 45.54.
But this is a world title and Solomon will have steep competition in Barcelona. He goes into the event ranked fourth in the world. The world’s leading junior is Luguelin Santos from the Dominican Republic. He is also the second fastest senior in the world with 44.45. Second ranked junior is Americas Aldrich Bailey (45.19) and Botswana’s Bafetoleng Mogami (45.46) is third.
“I am really looking forward to competing in both the individual and relay events in Barcelona,” Solomon said.
“My priority is the individual and I hope to do as well as I am aspiring to. The relay will be a fantastic opportunity to bond and run with Australia's up-and-coming runners. Provided the team is in top shape, I really do see us as a formidable force that on the day could produce a very special result.”
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for the IAAF