Jonathan Sacoor of Belgium after his upset 400m victory at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Tampere, Finland

Report: men’s 400m – IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

Could this be the biggest upset of the six day championships? Unbeaten across heats, semifinals and finals in both individual and relay races this year, Jamaica's Christopher Taylor was run down in the home straight by a Belgian who had never broken the 46-second barrier before these championships.

But that is not to say Jonathan Sacoor was an entirely unknown entity prior to the IAAF World U20 Championships. He won an individual bronze medal at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy, last July and was part of Belgium's bronze medal-winning team at the IAAF World Indoor Championships but the 18-year-old wasn't even ranked inside the top-10 on the entry lists prior to Tampere.

Sacoor did impress in the semifinal with a national U20 record of 45.72 to qualify as the fastest for tonight’s final. Taylor extended his unbeaten streak through the rounds and seemed to have plenty left in the tank after easing down to victory in the semifinals in 46.18.

In the final, Taylor began aggressively from lane six and made up the stagger on the two athletes on his outside by the 200m checkpoint. At this point, all eyes were on the clock to see if Taylor could get close to the 18-year-old championship record of 44.66 but the former world U18 champion’s head began to go back and he began to tie up badly in the home straight.

Sacoor was the surprise beneficiary, coming through on his immediate inside to win the title in another huge national U20 record of 45.03 - just 0.02 shy of Thomas Schonlebe’s European U20 record which dates back to 1984, two years before the championships were staged for the first time.

"Going into the race I didn't think it was possible for me to win,” admitted Sacoor. “My race plan was simply to go out as hard as possible from the start. The last 100 metres, I saw Christopher tiring a little bit and I thought maybe I have a chance to win this one."

With Kevin and Jonathan Borlee approaching the latter stages of their esteemed careers, Sacoor looks set to enrich Belgium’s fine recent tradition in the event and he was quick to give them credit.

"I want to give a big shout out to the Borlees - without them none of this would have happened, they're such a huge inspiration for me and I hope they're as happy as I am right now," said Sacoor, who joined forces with them for the first time at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March - and will do so again at the European Championships in Berlin next month.

Taylor was favoured for the title but the multi-talented Jamaican sprinter, who is still a junior next season, didn’t harbour any disappointment and was gracious in defeat.

"This means a lot to me going forward, I've had a great season and to come and get a medal, I'm happy with the result. I'm feeling pleased, as this is a good achievement for me,” said Taylor. “It's just today, the Belgian was too strong for me."

Taylor’s teammate Chantz Sawyers made it two medals for Jamaica with bronze in 45.89.

Steven Mills for the IAAF