Florida sophomore Kerron Clement broke Michael Johnson’s world 400-meter record Saturday night(2005-3-12), an unexpected display of speed that overshadowed team titles for the Arkansas men and Tennessee women at the NCAA Indoor track and field championships.
Clement, just 19 years old, outran a strong field and stunned the crowd with a 44.57-second clocking, breaking Johnson’s mark of 44.63 set on March 4, 1995, at the U.S. Indoor championships in Atlanta.
Clement, born in Trinidad, moved to the United States and was a highly sought high school athlete at La Porte, Texas, both as a hurdler and sprinter. He chose Florida over LSU, Texas, Tennessee and Baylor.
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Terry Gatson of Arkansas was second in 45.29 and Kelly Willie of LSU third at 45.41. Darold Williamson, anchor of the Olympic gold medal 1,600-meter relay team in Athens, was fourth at 46.26.
It was the first world record set at the Randal Tyson Track Center, which opened in 2000.
Clement capped his magnificent night by anchoring the victorious Florida 1,600-meter relay team in a collegiate record 3:03.51.
Clement, who wants to become a U.S. citizen and compete for the United States internationally, won the NCAA 400-meter hurdles outdoors last year as a freshman, and had considered that his best event at least until Saturday night.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd as the time was shown on the event scoreboard after he crossed the finish line.
Clement’s previous best in the 400 was 45.29 on the same track at the Southeastern Conference championships two