Jaheel Hyde in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
As he was introduced to the crowd shortly before the men’s 400m hurdles final on Saturday evening, Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde turned around, looked to his teammates and fans in the stands and smiled.
If the 19-year-old seemed relaxed about what was to come, it’s because he had been in this situation and done it all before, having taken the gold medal at the 2014 edition of these championships in Eugene.
He was the overwhelming favourite for gold here in Bydgoszcz, and the moment the gun fired to set the eight competitors on their way, he ran like a man with a target on his back.
Hyde powered through the first 200 metres, eating up the stagger on the athletes outside him. If anything, he was going too fast, forcing him to check his stride approaching some of the barriers in the back straight.
As he turned for home, Hyde held a two-metre lead over Taylor McLaughlin of the USA and Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands. Though he shortened his stride again approaching the last two barriers, it was clear Hyde had plenty in reserve to fend off the challenge from behind in the final stretch and he handed the Jamaicans their second gold medal of the championships.
Having run 49.29 to win this event two years ago, his run of 49.03 here gave him his second gold medal at this event. It will also have provided the perfect confidence boost for Hyde as he prepares to take on the world’s best at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio. Hyde was a second-place finisher at the Jamaican senior championships in 48.81.
McLaughlin, older brother of world U20 record-holder Sydney, charged home strongly off the last barrier to take silver in a PB of 49.45, a metre ahead of McMaster, who handed the British Virgin Islands their first medal of the championships. McMaster's run of 49.56 to take bronze was also a national senior record.
Next home was Brazil’s Mikael de Jesus in fourth with 50.06, while Japan’s Tatsuhiro Yamamoto came home fifth in 50.99.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF