In front of a loud New York crowd, Winston George overcame slight nerves and a heavy head wind to run the best race of his career, setting a new men’s 400 metres national record at the Adidas Diamond League athletics meet yesterday at Icahn Stadium in the “Big Apple”.
George clocked 45.57 seconds, shaving eight tenths of a second off Richard Jones’ previous national best of 45.65, while being edged into third place in the `B’ Class event in the fifth stop of the competition series.
The Guyana Police Force Sergeant, stormed down the homestretch but was nipped on the line by Jamaica’s Akheem Gauntlett for second place with both recording the identical time. British Olympian Michael Bingham crossed the line in first place clocking 45.13.
George topped Diamond League regular Tabarie Henry of the British Virgin Islands who was fourth, in a competitive field.
“This is indeed the best race I have run,” the Guyana 2012 Olympian related.
His previous best was 45.77.
Jones, who represented Guyana at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, had set the recorded in that city the same year.
It was George’s first race at the meet and he expressed delight with the facilities with the stadium’s newly laid Mondo track.
“The track was sweet, I enjoyed the run, although it was tough on the back straight.”
The international men’s 400m was won by American La Shawn Merritt, a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
George said he is now eyeing even more plaudits at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, next month.
He will spend the next three weeks training in New York before returning home on July 11 to compete in the senior national championships.
Promising ex junior 400m champion Stephan James was also on show yesterday, anchoring his club Zenith Velocity to victory in the Boys’ Youth 4x400m relay.
Now out of the junior ranks, James said he is feeling good about his chances of doing well in his first summer of competition in New York. He recently recorded his personal best 400m time, clocking 46.15s for a second place finish at the United States National College Amateur Athletics (NCAA) second division outdoor championships two weeks ago. James is one of four young Guyanese athletes who started school at ASA Junior College in Brooklyn, late last year.
“I was out of training for three weeks recently, but I am feeling better now since resuming training and hopefully I will do good at the Commonwealth Games.” said the youngster, who will join George as part of the Guyana track team for the event.
Despite money problems, James says he is now in a better frame of mind and is happy to be representing Guyana for the first time as a senior.
The meet was highlighted by an epic battle in the men’s high jump that resulted in the two best jumps ever recorded in 20 years.
Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko, on the first visit to the United States, edged young Qatari Essa Barshim on a count back for first place as both leapt seven feet 11 and one quarter inches.
The height was just below the world record of 7-12 made by Cuban Javier Sotomayor.
World and Olympic record holder David Rudisha won the men’s 800m while Jamaican sprint sensation Johan Blake was upset by compatriot Nesta Carter in the marquee men’s 100m. Fast rising American women’s sprinter Tori Bowie took the women’s equivalent.