Christopher chasing Juantorena

Tuesday, 08 April 2008 World Indoor champion Tyler to surpass Juantorena’s mark? – IAAF World Athletics Tour

Tyler Christopher of Canada wins the men’s 400m from Johan Wissman (Getty Images)

Canada’s World Indoor 400m champion Tyler Christopher will take a shot at the oldest meeting record in Ostrava which on 12 June 2008 hosts the 47th edition of the Golden Spike of Ostrava, a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour.

In 1976, Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena, who that season was crowned Olympic 400m and 800m champion and was to become a multiple World record breaker, came to Ostrava in the Czech Republic and set a time of 44.70 seconds for the one lap at the Golden Spike meeting.

Now 57-years-old and an IAAF Council Member, the 6ft 2 inches (1.89m) tall Cuban giant that year became the first man from a non-English speaking country to win the Olympic 400m title, even though he himself actually spoke English very well already. At the Montreal Games, Juantorena, considering he had limited experience of the 800m, did the seemingly impossible of running nines races in a week to claim a unique 400m and 800m double with a World record in the latter.

Christopher, 24, as well as his indoor win in Valencia this winter is the also 2005 World Championship bronze medallist at 400m, and with a 44.44 national record from that final in Helsinki he has all the credentials needed to challenge Juantorena’s ancient Ostrava meet record in June.

Indoors this year Christopher has improved his Canadian 400m record twice, with his 45.67 seconds run in Valencia the fastest indoor clocking in the world this season. If he can translate this form outdoors the Cuban’s time will easily be relegated to the history books.

German pole vaulter Tim Lobinger has also been announced by the organisers in Ostrava. The Valencia 5th placer and former World and European medallist has so far achieved 99 competitions with clearances of 5.80m or more during his distinguished career. Maybe Ostrava could be the 100th? The men’s Pole Vault is returning to Ostrava after six years and the meet record of 5.71m should be broken.

Chris Turner for the IAAF


Hey! Juantorena was a lot more than 6ft 2in! i’m 6ft 1in and he towered over me when I met him at the Pan Ams in 1979. Gotta be 6ft 6in.