Trini breaks Johnson’s world 400m record
March 18, 2005
Trini breaks Johnson’s world 400m record

Trinidad-born teenager Kerron Clement has broken Michael Johnson’s decade-old indoor world record for the 400m.

T he 19-year-old was competing for the University of Florida at the National Collegiate Athletic Association indoor championships in Arkansas.{{more}}

Clement, who is the world junior 400m hurdles champion, clocked a time of 44.57 seconds, obliterating Johnson’s time of 44.63 seconds.

It was the second big success in a week for the teenager, who helped his university team set a new NCAA 4x400m relay record the previous weekend.

“I can’t describe how I feel,” he said after the race.

“When I crossed the line, I wanted to cry, that was my first reaction” he said. “It was so overwhelming – breaking Michael Johnson’s record. I guess it’s mine now.”

The record-breaking athlete who left Trinidad at 13 when his family migrated to the United States has been hailed by athletics pundits as a possible successor to the current World and Olympic champion, Felix Sanchez.

Switched allegiances

Clement’s achievements have been lauded in the Trinidad media, but the pride will be tinged with disappointment that he has opted to run for the United States.

Trinidad sports journalist Kwame Laurence told BBC Caribbean Radio that Clement had in the past expressed interest in running for the country of his birth, but that athletics officials had “missed the boat”.

“I don’t think there’s anything that Trinidad would be able to offer that can lure him back because certainly, the big sport equipment giants like Nike and Adidas would be chasing Kerron with some attractive offers.

“Maybe we felt we didn’t need to go after him because he already declared his intention to run for us but the United States certainly wasn’t going to sleep on a talent like Kerron Clement particularly since that talent was spotted and developed in the United States.”