By Jonathan Gault
February 18, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This time it will count.
Four weeks ago, Christian Coleman thought he broke the world record in the 60-meter dash. By running 6.34 this afternoon to win the 60 at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships, he actually did it.
Coleman was challenged throughout the race by Ronnie Baker, the 2015 and 2016 NCAA 60-meter champ who also was the USATF indoor champ in 2017, but Coleman was far enough ahead to put his arms out in celebration a stride before the line. Baker ran a lifetime best of 6.40 to finish second and move to #3 all-time in world history.
Coleman’s 6.37 at Clemson University on January 19 was the fastest time ever in an indoor 60, but it will not be ratified by the IAAF as an official world record because of the lack of electronic starting blocks — a world record requirement. But the blocks in Albuquerque are electronic, and assuming Coleman passes his post-race drug test, this one will be ratified, eclipsing the previous record of 6.39 set by Maurice Greene in 1998 (and later tied by Greene in 2001).
Afterwards Coleman said on the NBCSN broadcast, “It feel[s] pretty good. The start was all right, [I] stood up and ran it. I wanted it more. I wanted to go get it (the world record).
“My hip was bothering me a little bit but I like big races like this. [It’s] 60 meters. Who’s going to get to the line first? And I wanted it. It just felt like a blur. I put in a lot of work,” Coleman added before saying, “I give all glory to God.”
Quick Take: Coleman is not usually an emotional guy, but he couldn’t help but channel Usain Bolt by celebrating early
It’s a very rare feat indeed to be able to celebrate before the line while setting a world record in a sprint event, let alone the shortest of them all. But, just as Usain Bolt announced himself to the world by celebrating early in his 9.69 100-meter world record at the 2008 Olympics, Coleman was able to start celebrating before even crossing this line as shown by the photo to the right.
The 60 meters is not the 100 meters, and the USATF Indoor Championships are certainly not the Olympics. But a world record is a world record, and Coleman didn’t just break it today — he smashed it (well, as much as a world record in the 60 can be smashed).
Coleman is generally a humble, serious person, but he couldn’t help but get excited after this race; as soon as he finished, he headed back down the straightaway jumping for joy before pausing to soak in the admiration of the crowd.
“I just love this sport, man,” Coleman said after the race. “It’s so competitive and it’s either you got it or you don’t on this day. And I love racing in the big races when everybody’s watching. I just flourish in those moments, man. I don’t know. That’s not really my personality (the big celebration), but when the lights are on, man, it just comes out.”
Quick Take: Coleman may have the world record, but he’s not done
The greats never want to put a limit on what they can accomplish, and even after breaking the WR today, Coleman admitted that his start was merely “decent.” Coleman had said the same thing about his acceleration in his 6.37 at Clemson. Has he ever had a good start (by his standards)?
“I’ve had good starts before,” Coleman said. “But I mean, [there’s] just always so much to work on, man. It’s just I never want to be satisfied. I’ve just gotta continue to work.”
Coleman has his first national title, and he enters the World Championships two weeks from now in Birmingham as the heavy favorite. But with Baker and 6.43 man Su Bingtian, he’ll have competition.
Note: The Albuquerque Convention Center, the site of today’s race, sits at an elevation of 4,958 feet, which benefits athletes in the sprint events. Professor Jonas Mureika’s wind/altitude conversion calculator says an altitude advantage of 4,958 feet (1,511 meters) corresponds to .03 seconds in the 60m, which means Coleman would have broken the old record even at sea level.