Athletics

Eye-popping 43.94 secs puts Bloomfield in esteemed company

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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Jamaica's Akeem Bloomfield had eyes popping when he dropped a spectacular 43.94 clocking while finishing second in the 400m at the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday — and just missed the national record by .01 second.

American phenom Michael Norman of the University of Southern California ran a sensational collegiate record of 43.61 and struck gold, while Bloomfield's Auburn University Jamaican teammate Nathon Allen was third in a personal best of 44.13.

The 20-year-old Bloomfield, who in March established the Jamaican National Indoor record of 44.86, was a whisker away from the outdoor record of 43.93 held by Rusheen McDonald since 2015.

The former Kingston College standout, who also has the high school record of 44.93 set in 2015, told the Jamaica Observer he was just happy to remain injury-free.

“I missed the national record by .01 and I guess one would feel disappointed, but that wasn't even on my mind. I just wanted to compete hard and finish healthy,” said Bloomfield.

“I got my goal and I am extremely happy. If it is my destiny to break the record, then I guess it will come. I'm only 20 years old so the sky is the limit. I'm just praying to remain injury-free and being able to compete at my best,” he added.

Bloomfield had looked awesome in the semi-final on Wednesday, clocking a personal best 44.72 in relaxed fashion similar to Allen who qualified with 44.83. Norman basically jogged his semi-final in 44.66, setting up a mouth-watering final on Friday.

Drawn in lane five, the tall Bloomfield was quickly up on the shoulders of his teammate Allen after 100m with Norman looping along in lane four in the catbird seat. The tempo quickened at the 250-m mark — Allen responded and Norman moved closer in the order, and when they swung into the straight, Bloomfield emerged with a slender lead, but the exceptional Norman found another gear and went by the Jamaican, winning by two metres in a world-leading 43.61 seconds.

Norman became the sixth-fastest 400m runner in history and sits behind world record holder Wayde van Niekerk, Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner, Quincy Watts and Butch Reynolds.

Bloomfield, the second- fastest Jamaican ever behind McDonald, 14th on the- all-time list, and third-fastest in the world, was pleased with his execution.

“I executed the race pretty good. I have problems with the finish, so I tried to go out hard and maintain as best as possible,” he explained.

“I did expect a PR (personal record), but I didn't expect to go that fast, honestly. I knew 43 seconds was in my projection, but I didn't know it would happen at this particular meet,” said Bloomfield.

With Jamaica's national trials coming up, Bloomfield is not sure if that will feature in his upcoming plans. But he is clearly weighing all olptions.

“The season has been a very long one and I don't really know what's next for me. I will be consulting my coach and management staff on the matter to see what's the best move for me going forward,” he noted.

But with his astonishing time in which only Norman (43.61) and Steven Gardiner (43.87) have gone faster, the thought of Bloomfield going professional has surfaced, and the computer science major is thinking about it.

“I'm not sure if I'll be turning pro or coming back to college. If the opportunity presents itself and the decision is a lucrative one, then my handlers will work out what's best for me. If not, I'll be returning to college one more year,” said Bloomfield.

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