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Canadian teen Morales Williams unfazed by world-record nullification, has high hopes for Olympics

Canadian teen Morales Williams unfazed by world-record nullification, has high hopes for Olympics

Canadian sprinter Christopher Morales Williams set a world record in the indoor men’s 400 metres — or so he thought. 

After recording an all-time mark of 44.49 seconds at the NCAA SEC championships on Saturday, World Athletics was unable to ratify the 19-year-old’s time due to a starting block issue.

Even though the technicality that was out of his control prevents Morales Williams from holding the world record, he’s not allowing the starting block issue to put a damper on his achievement.

“It’s still considered the world’s fastest time, so it honestly doesn’t even bother me too much,” Morales Williams told CBC Sports. “Because it’s still the collegiate record, it’s still the national record, and it’s still the fastest time, so it doesn’t actually take away from anything.

“Just thinking about it and the fact that it’s real, it just still surprises me that it happened all so quickly.”

The Vaughan, Ont., native’s performance is ineligible for submission to World Athletics because of the need for a Starter Information System (SIS) to be in operation at every meet, which is a requirement per rule 31.14.5.

“You have to have different things for a record to be ratified, and one of them is the SIS starting block,” Morales Williams’s Georgia coach, Caryl Smith Gilbert told CBC Sports. “If you ever watch a world championship or a big meet, they have a little speaker on the back and they tell the starter if a person’s reaction time was too fast and make sure everyone has a fair start — we did not have those blocks.

“But I would say nobody would have them at a conference level championship, because who knows there’s going to be a world record broken at that level of compete, right?”

Regardless, he still ran the fastest-ever time in the men’s indoor 400m — even if he doesn’t have the official world record.

Congratulatory messages poured in for the University of Georgia collegian, with friends, family, and athletes sending him well-deserved props.

“Everyone’s supporting me. They’re on my side, and people want the world record to be ratified,” Morales Williams said. “Everyone’s been really positive. 

“My confidence is a lot better and way higher than it used to be.”

WATCH | Morales Williams records time of 44.49 seconds in 400m indoor: 

I accidentally broke the ‘world record’: Christopher Morales Williams on all-time best 400m run

Canadian sprinter isn’t fazed that his 44.49-second run isn’t officially recognized as a record because the 19-year-old reasons he has a whole career ahead of him.

Morales Williams woke up sick the morning he set the world’s best time.

Barely eating breakfast, taking a nap, and having lunch, Morales Williams grew nauseous. After throwing up, he called his team wondering how he could refuel and get ready for his race.

At the track with some food, Gatorade, and water in his system, he conducted his warm-up as normal, but his ailments persisted.

“I was just so out of breath, so tired,” Morales Williams said. “I couldn’t even stand up for more than about 20 seconds, and [then] I had to sit down.”

Praise from De Grasse

The time came for Morales Williams to prepare for his race, and Smith Gilbert offered advice to her pupil.

“I told him if he’s gonna run, run; if he’s sick, he’s sick … but make a decision,” she said. “Try to execute.

“You came a long way to get all this done.”

Morales Williams took his coaches words to heart, and the result was his historic finish. 

“My coaches are there to support me,” he said. “Telling me [about] all the hard work and reminding me that I came so far, and I thought about that myself. I’m not gonna let something like that get in the way.” 

In the aftermath, a slew of Canadian athletes messaged him, including Olympic champion Andre De Grasse.

Smith Gilbert, who coached De Grasse at the University of Southern California, presented Morales Williams with the text from the Canadian icon.   

“He was like, ‘Oh wow, Andre texted me,'” Smith Gilbert said. “We did it kind of quickly because he was cooling down. I was showing him, ‘Hey this is what Andre said, you got to keep on going, make this Olympic team.’

“He was like, ‘Oh yeah, I got to do it.’ So it seemed like it motivated him.”

Looking toward Paris

Competitions are coming for Morales Williams before, he hopes, the 2024 Olympics — including the 2024 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the men’s and women’s SEC Outdoor Championships, and the World Athletic Relays.

With Morales Williams’s plate full, his approach to this summer is no different than before his recent stardom.

“I’m just gonna keep training, staying healthy, and get ready for the big show,” he said.

Canada’s 4x400m relay team can qualify for the Olympics at the World Relay, giving him another chance to flash his speed.

However, even if Canada secures a spot, Morales Williams’s participation will not guarantee him a spot on the Canadian Olympic roster.

Team Canada will hold national selection trials between June 27-30 to determine which athletes will qualify for the Olympics. Should Morales Williams be called to represent his country, it will be just a short four weeks before the beginning of the 2024 Games in Paris, beginning July 26.

While his Olympic ambitions were more modest before his sparkling 44.49-second finish, Morales Williams is now thinking bigger. 

“My goal at first this year, before this had happened, was just to make the Olympic final,” Morales Williams said. “I think now I’m just going to shoot for the stars and say my goal will be to hopefully hit the podium, [and] try to win a medal in the individual event.

“I’m confident in myself that I can — and if not, there’s always the next Olympics because I’m only 19.”