By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Kyron McMaster made the British Virgin Islands a part of Olympic Games history, when he finished fourth in the Tokyo 400m Hurdles final, in the fastest race ever run over the 10 barriers in event history.
The race, won in a jaw dropping 45.94 seconds by Norway’s Karsten Warholm, obliterated Kevin Young’s 1992 Olympic Games record of 46.78 seconds and broke his own 46.70 World Record established at home in the Bislett Games on July 1, before the Tokyo showdown.
Rai Benjamin—who represented Antigua and Barbuda in his youth and now runs for the USA—was second in 46.17. He chopped his personal best from the 46.83 he used in winning the US Olympic Trials on June 26. Brazil’s Allison dos Santos, became the third fastest All Time with 46.71, to claim the bronze medal. His previous best was the 47.31 he set in winning his semifinal heat, in a South American Record—his sixth this season.
McMaster, in the fastest 400m Hurdles race ever run, was fourth in 47.08—shredding his May 9 personal best of 47.50 and moved to No 8 from No 19, on the All Time World List. His time is the 5th fastest ever run in Olympic Games history. In the process, he improved his BVI National Record, OECS Record and Caribbean and Central American Records, in the race that saw six men under 48.00 second and six of the first seven finishers, recording national or continental records.
That race produced the fastest time ever run in lanes 2-8, as well as the fastest time for place in all positions.
“In this day and age, 47.08 doesn’t get you a medal at the Olympics,” said McMaster, who won his preliminary in 48.79 and his semi in 48.26, becoming the first BVI athlete to win both in an Olympic Games. “When you have a field of three runners’ personal bests of 46, then you have two, three other guys banging on 47 consistently, you can expect fantastic stuff when all those guys are focused on one thing—execution and getting a medal.”
McMaster said he has learnt a lot this season and if you go after them, it’s suicidal.
“You have to have a race plan to go against these guys and not just any race plan,” he said, pointing out the intangibles. ”You have to be in shape; You have to mentally be in shape; you have to be mentally able to execute your race; physically able to execute your race to go up against these guys.”
McMaster, who fell at the ninth hurdle in his last race in Sweden, had to be treated and still had lingering effects and had heavy therapy after the prelim and semifinal rounds.
“I reckon, if everything had gone according to plan, I probably could have topped at 46,” he noted. “But today, with that specific race, there’s literally nothing I could have done to run faster than 47.08. My personal best coming in was 47.50. I chopped off .42 off my personal best. I gave it my all.”
Chantel Malone 1st finalist
Entering the competition, Chantel Malone—who had the 4th best Long Jump mark of the season at 7.08m (23’2¾”)—became the territory’s first Olympic Games finalist after cutting the sand at 6.82m (22’4½”), on her third attempt. She fouled her opener and produced a 6.44m (21’1½”) on her second attempt. The finals berth atoned for the major disappointment of not qualifying for Rio 2016.
In the final, she opened with a leap of 6.50m (21’4”). She stopped inflight on the second jump that measured 4.73m (15’6¼”). Her third and final attempt cut the sand at 6.48m (21’3”), well shy of the 6.82 (22’4½’) mark she laid down in qualifying for the final, which would have had her placing eight—but instead had to settle for an unlooked for 12th place finish.
“I know you guys are proud, but I’m super disappointed,” Malone said afterwards. “I’m in the best shape of my life and my intention was to go out there and at least execute and I wasn’t able to, that’s the disappointing part. I felt like I was trying to execute and I couldn’t feel that pop. I can’t tell you what it was. I felt like I was executing all the right movements on the runway, but once I got to the board, the pop just wasn’t what I wanted.”
Malone, who struggled with being 100% healthy prior to the meet, said being able to get to the finals is a big deal and although her intention was to be on the podium, she’s happy to represent the country.