A second World Youth sprint title on Sunday in Cali, Colombia, capped a phenomenal week for 16-year-old Candace Hill of Rockdale County (Conyers, Ga.) High School.
Running into a 0.7 meters per second wind, Hill won the 200 meters in a World Youth record of 22.43 seconds at the IAAF World Youth Championships for 16 and 17 year-olds. It was the second fastest time ever by a high school athlete — behind the record 22.11 set by future Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix of Los Angeles Baptist (North Hills, Calif.) in 2003 (and who has been the world’s best 200 runner for more than a decade).
The USA also took the silver medal. Lauren Rain Williams of Oaks (Westlake Village, Calif.) ran 22.90, making her equal to the No. 11 all-time high school performer. That time would have won every previous World Youth title. Nicola De Bruyn of South Africa was a distant third in 23.38.
“I thought I’d just run a 22.9 but 22.4 is way above what I expected,” said Hill (quotes provided in IAAF report form Cali). “I ran right through the line, the crowd went wild and then I heard ‘world youth record’ and I just thought, ‘oh my God, how fast did I run?”
On Thursday Hill had won the World Youth 100 meter title in 11.08, the second fastest high school performance ever behind the high school (and World Youth) record 10.98 she had set in June. The record performance had propelled her to be recognized earlier the same day as American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Track Athlete of the Year.
Two days earlier Hill was named the Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year – but was already in Cali and unable to attend the award presentation.
Hill’s 200 time also set sophomore class and age 16 high school records. She moved to No. 16 on the overall 2016 world list. That list is fittingly headed by Felix at 21.98 (heading into next month’s World Championships in Beijing — where she will defend her title).
The previous World Youth record was 22.47, set on June 28 at the USATF National Championships by now professional Kaylin Whitney, 17 – who also set high school and World Youth records last year as a sophomore at East Ridge (Clermont, Fla.).
TWO OTHER ALL NATIONAL LEADING ALL-USA ATHLETES TAKE GOLD
Two other All-USA selections – and national high school leaders – won gold medals over the weekend with 400 meter hurdles victories in Cali:
Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.) took the girls hurdles – with a championship record 55.94. Norman Grimes of Canyon, Texas, took the boys hurdles in 49.11. (The boys hurdles used in world youth competition are lower than those in regular high school races, where the national record is 49.38.)
- Samatha Watson of Rush-Henrietta-Sperry (Henrietta, N.Y.) won two gold medals on the final day of the championships. She improved her personal best in the 800 meters nearly a second to win a tight race in 2:03.54. Just an hour and a quarter later, Watson anchored the USA’s mixed 4 x 400 meter relay to gold in 3:19.54 – winning by nearly two seconds over runner-up South Africa. Keshun Reed, the individual bronze medalist in the boys 400, gave the USA the lead on the leadoff leg, followed by surprising girls 400 meter silver medalist Lynna Irby of Pike (Indianapolis). Grimes ran the third leg to get his second gold.
- Indiana 400 champ Pike, whose regular season 400 best was only 54.47, became the U.S. high school season leader at 51.79 (No. 11 all-time) with her individual silver performance.
- Tara Davis of Agoura (Agoura Hills, Calif.) won the girls long jump Sunday with her final effort of 21-0 1/4 inches.