One year ago, Tyson Gay capped his breakout season with a stellar 19.68 victory at the World Athletics Final. This year, Stuttgart may have witnessed the birth of another sprint star, Norwegian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure.
24 hours after finishing second to World record holder Asafa Powell in the 100m here at the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, where he lowered his own national record to 10.06, the 23-year-old produced a stunner of his own after powering away to a 19.89 victory in the 200.
“I was just gone, it was crazy, it was unbelievable,” was the Gambian-born Ndure’s reaction when seeing ‘19’ flash onto the screen. “I feel really happy. These were some great conditions here today. And I made good use of them.”
Clearly leading off the bend, one could sense an upset in the making, but Ndure said he wasn’t surprised to find himself ahead of Osaka bronze medallist Wallace Spearmon heading into the homestraight.
“No I was not surprised, I’m a faster 100m runner than him. He’s very slow in the 100 and I took advantage of that.” He clearly did, leaving the American well back in 20.18
It was a massive leap forward for the 23-year-old, who arrived in Stuttgart with a 20.25 best to his credit. But the happy-go-lucky sprinter, who began training seriously just two years ago, said he wasn’t that surprised that he pulled off the victory. Indeed, he said, he had big plans for the weekend.
“I’ve been training very hard this year. Yesterday I was looking forward to running under ten seconds. But with the false starts and all that, it was a little bit bad in the 100. I was a little bit tired, because it took three starts yesterday. But then today I came into the race feeling all fresh again. I feel great.”
Raised by his mother, Saffie Saidy, in Gambia, Ndure participated in a wide variety of sports, and athletics wasn’t immediately his first choice.
“Life was good in Gambia,” he said. “I was doing athletics just for fun. I was playing basketball and volleyball more often, and football a little bit. I was talented, but it was only part-time for me. And then the Gambians invited me to compete for the national team. But I still wasn’t serious because I didn’t like to train.”
Ndure moved to Norway in 2001, to join his father, Babou Ndure, who’d been living in the Scandinavian country for 27 years.
“I had been living in Africa with my mom, and I later moved to live with him,” he said, before adding with a wide grin, “I’m a guy, and I need to be raised by a guy, not a woman.”
In Oslo, he continued along his athletics path, but didn’t begin taking it seriously until about two years ago, following a bronze medal finish in the 100 at the 2004 African Championships. That year he reached the quarter-finals in both sprints at the Olympic Games in Athens, and reached the semis of the longer sprint in Helsinki a year later.
After becoming a Norwegian citizen in December 2006, he immediately began rewriting the nation’s sprinting lists. After his dash in Stuttgart, he made a significant revision to the continental all-time list as well, blasting all the way to No. 3, behind only former World record holder Pietro Mennea of Italy and Greek Konstadínos Kedéris.
Although he was forced to miss Osaka, he's competed notably over the past month, finishing second in the Zürich and Brussels 100m contests and winning in Berlin.
But for now he’s not thinking about record, rivals, or even which is his better event. He’s clearly having fun, and plans to continue enjoying himself.
“I’m still going to run both races,” he said. “I’m doing pretty good in the 100, today was great, so I’m going to keep running both of them. And right now, I’m not thinking about any records. I’m just going to keep on training, and just hope to see better times.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
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