The 400m event at the 2013 Zagreb IAAF World Challenge will feature a junior star and a hurdler.
Luguelín Santos of the Dominican Republic (born on 12 November 1993) is one of the best and most exciting athletes in the 400m today. The best – because of the medals he has won in the past year, and most exciting – because of the way, in which he has won them. He won both silver at the London Olympics (44.46) and bronze at the World Championships in Moscow (44.52) with a frantic sprint finish in the last 100m, overtaking many opponents at the finish line.
He started running in 2002. He ran barefoot because he didn’t have money for spikes (or even food!), and as there was no track close to where he lived, he trained in a baseball stadium. He started with long distances, went on to middle distances, and he has been running the 400m since 2008. He became Junior World Champion back in 2012, and when he saw how fast his progress was, he predicted:
„Until now, only Americans have been running the 400m in under 44 seconds. I want to be the first non-American who will achieve that!“
But, it turns out that another teenager beat him to that – Kirani James of Grenada, who won in the London Olympic final in 43.94. Santos’s silver was only the third Olympic medal for the Dominican Republic, and interestingly, he won it only 45 minutes after his famous compatriot Felix Sanchez had won his second gold in the 400m hurdles.
The hurdler from the beginning of the story is USA’s Kerron Clement (born in Port Spain, Trinidad, on 31 October 1985). Clement is the World Champion from Osaka in 2007 and Berlin in 2009 and the 2008 Olympic Vice-Champion from Beijing. His personal best is the terrific 47.24. His achievements in the 400m flat are also very impressive.
Running for Florida at the 2005 US Collegiate Indoor Championships, he finished in 44.57 and broke the indoor world record, held until then by no other than Michael Johnson (44.63)! His outdoor personal best was also a very fast time of 44.48, so he regularly ran on the US 4x400m relay teams. Thanks to that, his collection also includes an Olympic gold medal from Beijing and two world gold medals from Osaka and Berlin.
In Zagreb on 3 September, they will share the field with excellent US runner Manteo Mitchell, Martyn Rooney (UK), Renny Quow (TRI) and Mateo Ružić (CRO).