Monday, March 10, 2008

Canada's Tyler Christopher wins world indoor gold

B.C.'s Christopher wins world indoor gold

in 400 metres

B.C. sprinter sets Canadian mark and beats rival Brown

Tyler Christopher earned Canada's first medal at the world indoor track and field championships Sunday at Valencia, Spain, setting a Canadian record record in the process.

The 24-year-old from Chilliwack, B.C., won the men's 400-metre title in 45.67 seconds.

Sweden's Johan Wissman was second in 46.04, while Chris Brown of the Bahamas was third in 46.26.

Christopher was third with 40 metres to go before surging to victory.

Christopher, who earned $40,000 US for winning the final, started in Lane 5 with archrival Brown to his immediate right.

Brown went out hard on the first lap and as the runners broke for the inside lane after the second bend, Christopher was squeezed back into third as Wissman also made a bid for the lead.

"That was the plan, to go out in front at the start, but then when I didn't, it wasn't that important to me to waste the energy to get in front," Christopher said. "So I let them have it.

"I conserved a little energy and went for it at the end."

Following on legendary heels

Christopher became the first Canadian man to win a world title since Montreal's Bruny Surin captured the 60-metre title in Barcelona in 1995, and is just the sixth to win a gold medal in world indoor history.

He won his 400-metre semifinal heat Saturday to cement a berth in Sunday's final.

Christopher captured a bronze medal at the 2005 world outdoor championships, but dropped to sixth in last year's event.

Christopher was particularly pleased to beat Brown, who captured the 2007 Pan American Games title when Christopher thought a false start would be called and let up, only to find he was mistaken.

The Canadian had to settle for the silver medal on that occasion.

"Chris Brown and I have quite a battle history," he said, "I win, then he wins, and he has three on me so far.

"So it was about time to take him down."

A disappointed Brown was humble in defeat.

"I got stepped on the last lap and I lost my momentum," he said. "It made it harder for me, but that's how it goes sometimes.

"Obviously he [Christopher] stayed behind and watched both of us. He made a big surge and earned the victory."

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