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400 Metres Under 44

Bernard Linley Track & Field Retrospect by Bernard Linley :: 8.12.2017

At the 2016 Rio Olympics Machel Cedenio came fourth in the 400m final clocking 44.01, a new TT national record, a tantalizing 0.02 seconds away from an under 44 time!

This was the latest in a long line of one lap records, going back over a century to 1905, the year when policeman Bert Harragin ran 54.2 over 440 yards (about 403 metres).

In three decades the quartermile record was improved to 52.2 by Reginald Stanford (1910), 51.8 by Prince Didier (1919), 50.8 by West Indies cricketer Ben Sealy (1922) and 50.0 by the "unbeatable" Bertie Thompson (1936).

Our first quartermiler under 50 seconds was Ellis Guerra (49.8 in 1941), and the record then passed to PG Wilson (49.4 in 1944) and Olympic sprinter Georgie Lewis (49.0 in 1947).

In 1951, soon after the one lap event became metric, Gerald Yammie clocked 48.9, first under 49, and the following year TLL sprinter Fitzroy Bates ran 48.1 which he improved to 47.6 at Southern Games 1955, first under 48.

Clifton Bertrand broke this record with 47.3 at the 1958 British West Indies championships, and the next year Basil Ince took the Pan American Games silver medal in 46.4, first under 47.

At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo Wendell Mottley was second in 45.25, first under 46, and he further improved the record to 45.08 when winning the 440 yards at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston.

Sixteen years later, in 1982, Mike Paul racing in Cologne ran 400m in 44.88, first under 45.

After that the record was broken twice by Ian Morris in two Olympic semifinal races – 44.60 in Seoul 1988 and 44.21 in Barcelona 1992.

Cedenio`s 44.01 effort in Rio de Janeiro was one fifth of a second faster than that of Morris, set 24 years earlier, and must place him in pole position to be the first under 44.


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