18 JUL 2004 General News

Men's 4x400m Final

Another relay, another world record!

In the space of 1 and a half hours, the future of American sprinting etched their marks in the history books and in the last track event of these World Junior Championships it was the turn of Brandon Johnson, LaShawn Merrit, Jason Craig and Kerron Clement to scorch burn marks on the track, setting a new world junior record of 3:01.09, ahead of South Africa, who broke the African record with 3:04.50 for silver, and Japan, who also broke the Asian record with 3:05.33 just ahead of Brazil, whose 3:05.44 was the fourth Area record in the race.

Brandon Johnson, the silver medallist in the 400m hurdles here in Grosseto, got the Americans off to a great start, but it was La Shawn Merritt, who had earlier been part of the 4x100m US team that broke the world record and Jason Craig on the third leg who really did the damage.

As he came off the final turn, Craig’s lead was at least 30 metres, and although he faded, Kerron Clement still took over the baton with a huge advantage, which the world champion in the 400m hurdles had no problems in maintaining.

Behind, there was an exciting race for the other medals, with South Africa’s 200m silver medallist Leigh Julius running a brilliant third leg to overtake Japan’s Teppei Suzuki, to give the initiative to his anchor man Louis Van Zyl, the Kingston champion at 400m hurdles.

With another hurdler on the first leg (Wouter Le Roux) and 400-800m man Chris Gebhardt in second, the South Africans showed that you a lack of specialist 400m men need not be a handicap. The Great Britain team finished only fifth completing a miserable Championship for British athletes. For the first time ever at the World Juniors, a Briton failed to win a single medal.