Big move forward for Andre Clarke
Jamaica's Andre Clarke made a big move forward in the 400 metres hurdles last Saturday.
Clarke, formerly of Vere Technical High and G.C. Foster College for Physical Education, zoomed to a massive personal best of 48.29 seconds and seventh in the all-time Jamaica performance list.
Saturday's run in Montverde, Florida, has the lanky Jamaican thinking cautiously about the 48-second barrier.
The improvement makes him the fastest Jamaican of 2018 and the sixth fastest in the world this season.
Clarke overhauled 2016 Olympic finalist Annsert Whyte to win the race and to slash his lifetime best from 49.09 seconds. Speaking from his US training base on June 12, the lanky Jamaican recalled, "I just do what I have to do in the race like we did in practice with coach."
The coach he speaks of, retired Jamaican 400-metre runner Sanjay Ayre, has led him to a new level. Clarke has ticked off personal bests in the indoor 500 metres as well as in the 400 hurdles. He hit 49.10 in the heats of the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April and 49.09 at the Grenada Invitational.
Now 0.01 ahead of 1996 Olympic semi-finalist Neil Gardner on the Jamaican all-time list, Clarke has improved four years straight. He's now looking at the 48-second barrier.
"I have a good chance of getting to 47 ... but I don't put time on my head, so whatever I get, I just work with that, because sometimes when you put a time on your head and you don't get it, you look at yourself and say I didn't accomplish what I want."
His main focus is positioning himself to excel next year.
"As you know," he outlined, "this year is not really a championship year, so we're just trying to get as fast as we can for this season, trying to get some of those Diamond League races and trying to set myself up for next year's championship year. I am trying to get a decent time going into next year."
Clarke, who turned 26 just three days before his Montverde stunner, launched his senior career with a 2015 Intercollegiate Championships record of 50.10 seconds. He will next be in action at the Jamaican Championships in Kingston.