USA’s Bershawn Jackson came into the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup with a winning streak of six races, the world-leading time of 47.32, the Samsung Diamond League title, and the US Championships title with a tally of six sub-48-second clocking. It seemed to be a given that the reigning World Champion would score maximum points for the Americas team in the opening track event.
But then this is the hurdles and anything can happen – and, unfortunately for Jackson, it did happen. The diminutive runner got off to a blistering start and was up on David Greene’s shoulder by the second hurdle. By half way it looked as though Team Americas would score big in this event as Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson was also running well in lane one.
Jackson came into the home straight with a comfortable lead, but European Champion Greene was looking as strong as he ever has done. Jackson then misjudged the final hurdle and was thrown off balance from hitting it, while Greene made no such mistake and did not look back as he sprinted past Jackson in the final 20 metres.
Greene was rewarded not only with $30,000 prize money, but also a lifetime best of 47.88, just 0.06 off the Great Britain & NI national record set by Kriss Akabusi 18 years ago, and breaking the stadium record – also set by Akabusi. It was the fastest winning time at the IAAF World Cup since Ed Moses’ 47.37 victory in 1981.
Culson came through for second in 48.08, while Jackson held on for third in 48.62. Senegal’s Mamadou Hane dipped under 49 seconds for the first time with 48.89 in fourth, and South Africa’s LJ van Zyl was the only other athlete under 50 seconds, finishing fifth in 49.97.
“If anything my training has been getting even better since Barcelona,” said Greene, who will be competing at the Commonwealth Games next month in Delhi. “When I felt Jackson go past me so soon, I felt annoyed, but I had a feeling the race would pan out like that because he’s done that several times throughout the season. I just tried to stick to my own race and when I changed down my stride pattern I felt really smooth.”
“I’ve been fighting for a time like that all season, and it came when I least expected it to,” added Greene.
Jackson was gracious in defeat and had good reason to be distracted, as his aunt passed away yesterday. “I was very close to her and to hear such bad news before the race affected my concentration,” he said. “I’ve had a great season and I hoped to end it with another win here in Split, but I was overwhelmed with emotions and Greene was running very fast so he was the better man today.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF