For a nation accustomed to dominating the sprints over the past decade, a tally of four medals from the IAAF World Championships in London caused some recrimination and soul searching in the Jamaican ranks last summer.
But it would not be an exaggeration to describe 18-year-old Christopher Taylor as a superstar in the making. Taylor has been on the radar for a few seasons – and expectations have been high in Jamaica – and he has been breaking records across the board this season. The championship record of 44.66 isn’t too far away either.
Taylor’s progression hasn’t followed a linear pattern but he broke his three-year-old 400m PB of 45.27 with 44.88 to win the senior title at the Jamaican Championships, taking the national U20 record with it. He also equalled Yohan Blake’s national U20 100m record of 10.11 in his final race before travelling out to Tampere.
While Usain Bolt’s national U20 200m record of 19.93 is almost certainly safe, Taylor also leads the world U20 lists with 20.35. The Calabar High School student upset a field including LaShawn Merritt and Anaso Jobodwana over the same distance to win at the Kingston Invitational.
A Jamaican one-two is by no means out of the question with Jamaican athletes filling four of the top five places on the world U20 lists. Nigeria’s Emmanuel Bamidele is third with 45.28 but he isn’t competing in Tampere.
The US challenge is led by national U20 champion Howard Fields – also known as Trey – who ran a 45.50 PB to win the title from Umajesty Williams’ 45.96.
Other medal contenders include Asian U20 champion Aruna Dharshana from Sri Lanka, Japan’s Yoshinobu Imoto and Jonathan Sacoor, who was part of Belgium’s bronze medal-winning team at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
In total, 12 athletes on the entry list have season’s bests of 46 seconds and faster.
Steven Mills for the IAAF