By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com

One of the most gruelling events in track & field is the 400m hurdles. It requires guts, dedication, stamina, technique and mental fortitude. Many persons will say that these requirements are similar to other track events; however, one of the factors used to measure its difficulty on the body is the recovery period. It is one of those events, whereby the semi-finals and finals are often set a day apart unlike the short sprinting events. Jamaica is producing a few gladiators who are up to the task of tackling this demanding discipline.

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Roxroy Cato is the fastest Jamaican one lap hurdler this season with his 48.97 seconds clocking at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York. Cato is the defending National Champion and seems confident of making it two in a row in 2015. Cato had an outstanding 2014 season winning the NCAA Division Two 400m hurdles final while helping his team St. Augustine’s University to winning the division title. Cato’s winning time last year (48.48) at the JAAA National Senior Championship is a personal best and he will be aiming to lower that mark on Friday June 26, 2015 at 8:20 pm. Interestingly, Cato has never represented Jamaica at a World Championship and making the team will be a special moment for the 27-year-old.

Leford Green is a multiple national champion who recently returned to Jamaica and is now associated with the Cameron Blazers Track Club. He credits teaming up with motivational coach Bertland Cameron as a bonus, as it will improve his 400m times, which will transfer to his 400m hurdles performances as well. Green who had looked laboured in the early part of the season is gradually getting stronger and better as the season progresses.

After a sixth place finish (50.74) in the Meeting Region Guadeloupe on May 2, 2015, Green followed up with a spirited effort at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet a week later. On that occasion, Green ran a season best of 49.22 seconds. At a recent JAAA All Comers Meet, Green was almost involved in a dead heat with rising star and winner Jaheel Hyde with both accredited with identical times (49.87). Green who was a semi-finalist in the last two World Championships and a finalist in the London Olympics is favoured to be among the top three at the National Senior Championship. The former KC athlete has a personal best of 48.47 seconds. 

Annsert Whyte is the third fastest Jamaican this season over 400m hurdles with a time of 49.20 seconds. Whyte is one of those athletes who flies under the radar and then pops up with solid performances at the right time. He is quite capable of causing an upset at the National Championship. Whyte ran 49.48 seconds to capture the men’s 400m hurdles title at the GC Foster Classic in mid March.

He kept himself busy throughout the month of May. At the Jamaica International Invitational Meet on May 9, 2015, Whyte ran 49.50 seconds to claim fourth spot. He won gold at the Cayman Invitational with a season best 49.20 seconds on May 16, 2015. A week later at the second JAAA All Comers Meet, Whyte cruised to victory in 50.23 seconds. He is race sharp and ready to challenge for a place in Beijing. Annsert Whyte’s personal best is 48.58 seconds.  

Jaheel Hyde is Jamaica’s youngest and perhaps brightest prospect in the men’s 400m hurdles. The 2014 World Junior Champion who recently turned professional is on a mission to do well in his senior debut season. Hyde closed out his high school career on a high with a championship record of 49.01 seconds, which makes him the second fastest Jamaican this season behind Roxroy Cato. The time is also a national junior record.

In his first professional race at the Cayman Invitational Meet, Hyde placed 3rd in 50.30 seconds after a slight stumble at the final hurdle. Hyde’s next assignment saw him coming up against a quality field at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League in Eugene where he placed 7th in 50.80 seconds. At the 4thJAAA All Comers Meet in early June, Hyde showed signs of getting back to his best with victory in 49.87 seconds. Hyde who is on a mission to make his first World Championship team is working hard to achieve that objective. 

Josef Robertson is a talented hurdler who has not yet fulfilled his early promise. Robertson has been very active this season competing in both 400m and 400m hurdles events with fluctuating results. His fifth place finish at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet in 49.71 seconds remains his season best. 

Isa Phillips is one of those veteran hurdlers who have been around before Instagram. The 31-year-old will be seeking to make his fifth World Championship team; however, the task could prove mountainous due to his lack of form and race sharpness. The lanky athlete who finished fifth at the National Championship last year is a fighter who will run until his spikes fall off before giving up. Phillips who has been to the semi-finals of every major championship attended was last seen competing locally in a 400m flat event at the UTECH Classic Meet in April registering 48.07 seconds.

At the start of the year, many persons did not see this event as one of the highlights of the National Senior Championship. However, it is now shaping up as a fantastic duel with the strong possibility of four athletes dipping below 49 seconds. The prospect of a number of these athletes making their first World Championship team will add tremendous pressure and excitement to this mouth-watering event. The battle to come off the final hurdle first should be fascinating.

About the Author:
Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at [email protected]


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