Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Event Report - Men's 400m Hurdles - Final

Kerron Clement successfully defends his world 400m Hurdles title  (Getty Images)

Kerron Clement successfully defends his world 400m Hurdles title (Getty Images)


    • Kerron Clement of the USA clocks 47.91 to win the 400m Hurdles

    The men's 400m Hurdles had promised to be a wide-open event, and while Kerron Clement put in a dominant performance to win, the battle for the other podium places revealed just why making any clear predictions was always going to be a precarious business. 

    Clement, the defending champion from the USA, set off like a man on a mission. His task: to win gold. His method: to execute his sometimes problematic stride pattern.

    But it almost went horribly wrong before it really got going. Former two-time World champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic clattered the first hurdle and it fell into Clement's lane. Fortunately, it stopped short of getting in Clement's way, and he charged down the backstraight and began to build up his lead.

    Team-mate and former champion Bershawn Jackson also got off to a strong start and was up on Britain's David Greene from very early on. Meanwhile Javier Culson of Puerto Rico was running blind in the outside lane, but was flying under the radar.

    Clement entered the home straight in the lead - a position he maintained right through to the finish line, stopping the clock in a world-leading 47.91.

    Behind him Culson was still running strong, as was Trinidadian teenager Jehue Gordon. Culson came off the final hurdle in a safe silver medal position, while Jackson tried to get back on terms with Gordon, catching the junior just before the line to secure bronze

    Culson set a national record of 48.09, Jackson recorded 48.23 and Gordon once again smashed his own national record with a terrific 48.26. At 17, Gordon was the youngest ever competitor in this event at a World championships. Over the course of his stay in Berlin, Gordon lowered his personal best by 1.19 seconds and is now the second fastest junior in history.

    Periklis Iakovakis of Greece - who earlier in the season was close to giving Berlin a miss altogether - ran a season's best of 48.42 to finish fifth and top European. The evergreen Danny McFarlane just held off Greene, 48.65 to 48.68, while Sanchez - who had looked so promising throughout the rounds - never really got back on terms with the race after his episode at the start, and clocked 50.11 in eighth.

    It was the second-slowest winning time in IAAF World Championship history, but it was one of the closest as less than 0.6 seconds separated the athletes in second and seventh.

    However, the race made history of a different kind. Jamaican veteran McFarlane at 37 years old became the oldest ever finalist in a sprint event at the IAAF World Championships, while 17-year-old Gordon - who lined up next to McFarlane in lane two - is the youngest athlete to make a final of a sprint event. Gordon's 48.26 puts him at second on the all-time junior list and improves his own world age-17 best that he set in the heats.

    But as promising as Gordon is, the night belonged to Clement - another prodigiously talented Trinidad-born one-lap hurdler - who after Ed Moses and Felix Sanchez becomes the third man to win back-to-back World 400m Hurdles titles.

    Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF