Sport

Gaye eyes PB!

…faces stiff test against Kerley, Simbanda, Francis in 400m at JN Racers Grand Prix

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior Staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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Defending 400m champion Demish Gaye will not only be looking to retain his JN Racers Grand Prix title, but will be hoping to lower his personal best of 44.55 seconds achieved at the 2017 London World Championships.

The 25-year-old, who took up tracks just five years ago, will match strides with promising American quarter-miler Fred Kerley, as well as Karabo Simbanda of Botswana and compatriot Javon Francis.

There will also be national record holder Rusheen McDonald, Fitzroy Dunkley and Renny Quow of Trinidad and Tobago in what is expected to be an exciting 400m encounter.

“I just want to lower my personal best. I have a couple of meets and I just want to lower my times,” Gaye told the Jamaica Observer.

Gaye, who was sixth in the 400m at the Commonwealth Games in April with a season's best time of 45.56 seconds, was not too pleased with his performance and is looking to step on the gas for the rest of the season.

“My performance was fairly good at the Commonwealth Games, it could have been better, but it's track and field and we have our ups and downs,” he explained.

“The season is going good so far. It's kind of a slow start but I am getting there, so I want to go there and win again, so I am getting myself prepared for that,” said Gaye.

The Maurice Wilson-led Sprintec runner has improved leaps and bounds since taking a liking to the sport in 2013, as he has consistently lowered his 400m personal best every year.

In 2013, his personal record was 49.88 seconds and by 2014 that was reduced to 48.24. He went even faster as he continued to learn the event and took his time down to 46.15 by the end of 2016.

The following year Gaye became a Jamaican household name when he clocked 45.30 seconds, then became an international star when he captured the Racers Grand Prix in 2017 in 44.73 seconds, defeating the likes of Lalonde Gordon and Machel Cedino of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Vernon Norwood of the USA. National record holder Rusheen McDonald was also left behind.

This year, Gaye will have his hands full to hold onto his title as Fred Kerley is seen as the future of American 400m running. The 22-year-old has a personal best of 43.70 seconds and a seasonal best of 44.71 seconds.

But Gaye will enter the contest with the psychological edge having finished ahead of Kerley at the 2017 London World Championships. Gaye, who achieved his personal best of 44.55 seconds in London, was sixth in the final with 45.04 seconds with Kerley just behind in seventh with 45.23 seconds.

Both renew rivalry but will have to watch out for the promising Simbanda, who turns 20 on July 2. The Botswanan has a personal best of 44.25 seconds, achieved as an 18-year-old while finishing fifth at the Rio Olympics.

Since then he got injured and is on the recovery path where he ran 46.15 seconds at the Commonwealth Games.

Then there is Francis, who won bronze at the Commonwealth Games with a season's best of 45.11 seconds. He threw in a clinker at the Shanghai Diamond League last Saturday, but with a personal best of 44.50 seconds, is expected to be a serious contender on local soil.

But whatever the outcome, Gaye will certainly make his presence felt and it's not beyond him to successfully defend his title.

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