Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

Judy Oakes
Peter Radford
Joyce Smith
Bud Baldaro
Kriss Akabusi
Ron Roddan
Tokyo Men’s 4x400m Relay Team

Tokyo Men’s 4x400m Relay Team
There could not have been a more rousing finale to the magnificent 1991 World Championships in Tokyo than the 4x400m relay. It was a mindblowing, excruciating, joyous race for the British camp… for the Americans it was just mind-blowing and excruciating.

The heats provided an indication of the epic to come.  The US foursome won their heat in 2:59.55 but the British set down their marker when Ade Mafe (46.1), Derek Redmond (44.5), the junior Mark Richardson (44.8) and Kriss Akabusi (44.1) took theirs in 2:59.49.  For the final the next day the Americans would bring in Andrew Valmon and the newly crowned 400m champion Antonio Pettigrew, while the British team would be strengthened by the inclusion of Roger Black and John Regis.

The first sensation of the race occurred when the first leg runners came out to try their blocks… for there was Black, traditionally the anchorman. As Akabusi explained later: “The reason why Roger was on the lead-off leg is because we had to neutralise the American strength.” It was a gamble, the plan being that Black would build up such a lead that the Americans would never get back on level terms.  That didn't quite come off, for although Black ran a splendid 44.7 leg his lead over Valmon (44.9) was less than two metres. On the second leg Redmond excelled himself with a 44.0 split but Quincy Watts came up with one of the fastest ever relay legs of 43.4 to build up a lead of almost four metres. It looked as though the British plan had misfired.  Next to go was Regis, primarily a great 200m runner who had produced an inspired 43.93 split in Split at the European Championships the year before. He didn't quite reproduce that, but a 44.22 clocking narrowed the deficit slightly against Danny Everett's 44.31.  Thus Akabusi took over for the anchor a daunting three metres behind Pettigrew. For him, a hurdler, to anchor the squad was a very special honour and it brought out all his tenacity and competitiveness, as Pettigrew found to his cost. Akabusi closed the gap, swung out to challenge the American and miraculously found the very last ounce of speed and strength to edge past some four strides from the line

His split was 44.59 to Pettigrew’s 44.93 and the British team had won a famous victory by 4/100ths in 2:57.53, a European and Commonwealth record. It was the greatest GB triumph in this event since the Americans were upset in the 1936 Olympics. What a race! As Akabusi remarked: “The guys before me did everything right; it was a big occasion and we had to grab it.” Chief Coach Frank Dick explained the strategy: “We worked out the best way to tackle the Americans and decided to pressurise them. They are not used to pressure because they are usually well out in front. And didn't it work?”

Jason Gardener presented the team with their induction award.