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LALONDE ON TRACK

Johnson: T&T sprinter can join sub-44 club

By Kwame Laurence kwame.laurence@trinidadexpress.com

Lalonde Gordon is on course to join an elite group of athletes who have run under 44 seconds in the 400 metres.

Quadruple Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson heads the list of ten sub-44 quartermilers with his 43.18 seconds world record run. Johnson is in Trinidad and Tobago for the announcement of a partnership between the Michael Johnson Performance Center and bpTT. At a press conference, yesterday, Johnson said Gordon is capable of joining the elite sub-44 club this season.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Gordon produced a personal best 44.52 seconds run to bag bronze in the men's one-lap final. And the 24-year-old T&T quartermiler has enjoyed a successful start to his 2013 campaign. He is currently the world leader in the indoor 200m and 300m events, clocking 20.60 and 32.48, respectively.

"He has already started off very quickly this year," said Johnson. "You have to have a very good combination of strength and speed in order to run 43 seconds. Or you have to have tremendous strength, in the mould of a Jeremy Wariner for example, who's not quick but he has very good speed endurance. He can hold that same pace for a very long time. I had that balance where I had very good speed and good strength and speed endurance, and I think Lalonde Gordon is in that mould."

Up until last year, only Americans had membership in the sub-44 club. That changed in the 2012 Olympic final, Kirani James stopping the clock at 43.94 seconds to grab gold for Grenada.

James was only 19 at the time, while Johnson produced his first 43-second run as a 24-year-old. But despite that statistic, Johnson does not expect James to develop into the first ever sub-43 quartermiler.

"Kirani is very good. He's very raw, so he can certainly run faster, (but) he doesn't have the raw speed to be able to go under 43 seconds. He will certainly run 43, deep into 43. He can run 43 consistently, once he starts to clean up some of his technique and form, and develop a little bit more strength. But he doesn't have the raw speed to be able to run under 43 seconds. There's only one person that can do that."

Johnson was referring to Jamaica's sextuple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt. The American track legend is convinced that Bolt is capable of not only breaking new ground in the 400m, but also improving on his 100m and 200m world records—9.58 and 19.19.

"Yes, he can go faster. As amazing as that sounds, he can go faster."

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