...Cedenio is Express Youth of the Year
Machel Cedenio dominated his peers in Eugene, Oregon, USA on July 24 to strike gold in the men’s 400 metres event at the IAAF World Junior (under-20) Championships. The global achievement has earned him the Trinidad Express Youth of the Year award.
Cedenio is based in Florida, USA, and is coached by American Lance Brauman. The Presentation College, San Fernando old boy said that training alongside the likes of fellow-Trinidad and Tobago athlete Keston Bledman and American Tyson Gay made a big difference in his preparation for the World Juniors meet.
“Being in an environment where you’re around Olympic and World Championship medallists every day,” Cedenio told the Express, “you have no choice but to focus and train hard. It was a good season. Every time I ran, I cut down my time. It was not overnight magic.”
Cedenio sounded an early-season warning with a comfortable triumph at the Carifta Games in Martinique, in April. He produced a 45.95 seconds run in the championship race to retain his title, finishing more than a second ahead of his closest challenger.
The next stop on the road to World Juniors gold came in the Cayman Islands, where Cedenio smashed the national junior 400m record. He clocked 45.23 seconds to secure top spot in the Cayman Invitational men’s one-lap event.
Less than three weeks later, Cedenio secured global precious metal. The teenager teamed up with Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow and Jarrin Solomon for bronze at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas. Running the third leg, Cedenio held his own against more seasoned competitors to help Trinidad and Tobago claim third spot in a national record time of two minutes, 58.34 seconds.
At the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, in Morelia, Mexico, Cedenio made light work of his rivals in the under-20 400m final, grabbing gold in 45.28 seconds.
The CAC outing was the ideal warm-up for World Juniors. Just 16 days later, Cedenio was competing at the global meet, in the opening round of the 400. The Point Fortin-born quarter-miler topped heat six in 46.60 seconds. Pacing himself well through the rounds, Cedenio cruised to victory in his semifinal heat in 45.90.
The championship race turned out to be a race against the clock. With no challenger in sight, Cedenio motored to the finish line in 45.13 seconds—a new national junior record. Cedenio, a member of the Simplex Athletic Club, was coached by Gunness Persad early in his career.
“I thank God, my parents and my coaches (for this award), including Persad who gave me the opportunity to go to Florida and train with the guys.”
When at home, Cedenio still seeks the advice of Persad.
“Right now, I’m getting ready to go practice with him.”