Marvin Williams in the boys' 400m Hurdles at the IAAF World Youth Championships 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Donetsk, Ukraine

Williams gets surprise gold as rivals' hurdles hopes go crashing

Jamaica’s Marvin Williams improved his own personal best by almost one second to clock a world youth-leading mark of 50.39 and become a surprise winner of the boys’ 400m Hurdles here in Donetsk.

It was in fact his team mate Okeen Williams – his best friend and school mate who shares a surname, despite not being related – who was expected to be on top of the podium after clocking 50.53, then the fastest time in the world this year, to win his semifinal.

In arguably the most dramatic final of these championships so far, Okeen did not even make it to the finish line after crashing into the ninth hurdle.

Okeen and Marvin, respectively in lanes three and four, ran stride-for-stride for the opening 200 metres.

As the pair entered the final bend, Okeen was marginally ahead of Marvin with Kenya’s Geofrey Kipkoech Cheruiyot also running well on the inside lane two.

As the trio approached the final straight, Cheruiyot’s unconventional hurdle technique got the better of him and the 17-year-old saw his hopes of becoming Kenya’s first World champion at the event come to an end as he crashed into the eighth barrier.

As the spectators rose to their feet to signal their disappointment at the fall of the Kenyan, Okeen and Marvin seemed to be destined to acquire Jamaica’s first double of these championships but their hopes too were short-lived with Okeen failing to clear the next hurdle, prompting an even louder roar from the crowd.    

The double drama left the way open for Williams’ comfortable win ahead of China’s Wang Yang, who was second in 50.78, while the USA’s Kenneth Selmon was third in 51.30.

At a championship where Jamaica failed to win a medal in the marquee 100m event, they have now conquered gold in both sprint hurdles and the boys' 400m Hurdles!