Propelled by a gutsy run down the home straight, Christopher Taylor powered to an impressive victory in the boys’ 400m to secure Jamaica’s first gold medal at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015.
Taylor arrived in Colombia as the world youth leader, ran confidently through the first two rounds and was clearly the man to beat in the evening’s penultimate final.
Despite just being 15 and the youngest boy in the final, he lived up to that pressure by fending off a two-pronged US attack over the final 50 metres to get a 45.27 victory.
It was the fastest time ever by a 15-year-old and eclipsed his own time of 45.30 from the semi-finals, having arrived at the championships with a best of 45.55 which was also a world age-15 best.
“It was a very hard race today,” said Taylor, who improved upon his 45.30 lifetime best set in Thursday’s semi-finals. “The guys were very strong.”
But that he was stronger than most was evident midway down the backstretch when he had already made up the stagger on three of the four runners to his outside.
Taylor carried a clear lead off the final bend, but couldn’t quite shake the US duo of Josephus Lyles, to his inside in lane three, and Keshun Reed, to his outside in six.
However, neither gained significant ground in the waning stages of the race.
Lyles crossed the line in a lifetime best of 45.46 to take silver and Reed was third in 45.96.
Taylor’s performance was just 0.03 shy of the championship record set by Kirani James in 2009 and solidified his hold on the number six spot on the world youth all-time list, one notch ahead of a certain Usain Bolt.
In a quality race, Jamal Walton (45.99) of the Cayman Islands, Botswana’s Karabo Sibanda (46.03) and Australian Louis Stenmark (46.29), who finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, also produced personal bests.
All three medallists praised the energy of the crowd who came out in force tonight, one of the largest ever gathered at an IAAF World Youth Championships according to veterans of each of the nine editions.
The race featured Colombia’s best hope of the day, Anthony Jose Zambrano, who electrified the crowd on Thursday after impressively winning his semi-final, a day after he had set a 46.27 lifetime best in his heat.
Midway through tonight’s race it was clear that a repeat wasn’t in the cards but he finished seventh in 46.57, so far the best finish for a Colombian in Cali.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF