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Canada's Morales Williams denied world record in indoor 400 due to technicality

Canadian Christopher Morales Williams poses for a photo next to his result during the NCAA Southeastern Conference indoor championships, in Fayetteville, Ark., in a Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Georgia, Wesley Hitt, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Canadian sprinter Christopher Morales Williams is the all-time fastest runner in the indoor men's 400 metres — but not an official world record-holder in the distance — due to a technicality beyond his control.

The 19-year-old University of Georgia sophomore ran a time of 44.49 seconds at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Saturday to win the NCAA Southeastern Conference (SEC) indoor championships. 

However, the performance can't be submitted to World Athletics for world-record consideration, Athletics Canada said, because a Starter Information System (SIS) was not in operation at the meet, which is a requirement per World Athletics rule 31.14.5.

"For performances up to and including 400m (including 4x200m and 4x400m) under Rule 32 of the competition rules, starting blocks linked to a World Athletics certified Start Information System under Rule 15.3 of the Technical Rules must have been used and have functioned correctly so that reaction times were obtained and are shown on the results of the event." 

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, in a post on social media, also confirmed the mark can't be ratified due to the issue with the starting blocks. 

According to a report on the university's website, World Athletics had advised the school's track and field director of the situation. 

It wasn't clear why the Starter Information System was not used at the competition. 

An NCAA spokesperson suggested contacting the SEC for comment since it was a conference competition. 

Later in the day, an SEC spokesperson said they were working to "track down the answer." A message left with World Athletics was not immediately returned.

"It doesn't change the fact that I still ran the time," Morales Williams told the school's website. "It's still the fastest time in the world, so it really doesn't bother me at all. It's not ratified, but it's still there. 

"It really doesn't make too much of a difference. It doesn't bother me."

The previous world record of 44.57 from American Kerron Clement — set on the same track in 2005 — will stand.

Morales Williams, a native of Vaughan, Ont., already owned the Canadian indoor 400 record with a time of 45.39 on Feb. 9 at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational.

Athletics Canada said his latest record will stand as a new national best, pending national team committee confirmation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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