Sat | Apr 20, 2024

Clarke keeps promise

19-year-old breaks nat’l 400m hurdles record, sets new world under-20 mark

Published:Tuesday | August 22, 2023 | 12:08 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Roshawn Clarke competing in heat three of the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary yesterday.
Roshawn Clarke competing in heat three of the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary yesterday.

BUDAPEST, Hungary

In a debut season where he has soared to new heights, national 400 metres hurdles champion Roshawn Clarke can add World Athletics Championships finalist to his résumé.

He can also call himself world under-20 record holder and the fastest Jamaican in history in the event, qualifying for tomorrow’s final in a blistering 47.34 seconds, to finish second in his semifinal heat yesterday.

Citing issues with cramps yesterday which forced him to play it safe in his first-round heat, Clarke promised that something special would be in store once he cleaned up his technique.

He delivered on that promise which had him lost for words.

“I said I would fix it and I did just that and I came out with a big Q (automatic qualification) and a world under-20 record and a national record,” Clarke said. “I don’t know what to say at this moment. I set goals in my mind. I don’t like to put times on myself. I just know that I have speed, and I have a good running technique. The time will come when I execute it and I did just that. I got the national record, the world under-20 and I’m heading to the final of the World Championships.”

Clarke had the added task of battling the Olympic champion and world record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway in his semifinal and though the task was great, Clarke said that he felt he was in the hunt with no one close behind him after the first half of the race.

“I was running for my life knowing that the world record holder was behind me. But after I crossed the first 200m, I realised that I am in this race because I didn’t hear anybody behind me as yet. I knew that I was in the race. I executed just as planned and I came out right behind the world record holder and I am grateful,” Clarke said.

Clarke has ticked off every box he has set so far in his rookie season: Austin Sealy Award winner at the Carfita Games, national champion, national and world under-20 record holder and now a World Championships finalist.

It is the stage that he hoped that he would one day be on and he is relishing battling against the best for a medal.

“This is the World Championships. You have no other choice but to go against the big guys. That is not a problem for me. I am just running, and executing and getting the job done,” Clarke said.

National champion Janieve Russell, 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Rushell Clayton, and debutant Andrenette Knight all progressed to the women’s 400m hurdles semifinals today with automatic qualifications in their first-round heats.

Meanwhile, the chase for the women’s 100m hurdles title will get under way at 11:40 a.m. Jamaica time with Ackera Nugent making her World Championships debut in heat one. Former world champion Danielle Williams is in heat three and national champion Megan Tapper in heat five battling defending world champion and world record holder Tobi Amusan who was recently reinstated by the Athletics Integrity Unit after being cleared of a whereabouts violation.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com