Christian Malcolm’s career which was littered with glittering achievements came to an end when due to injury he failed to make the Welsh team for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. If he had have gained selection he would have become the only Welsh track and field star to have competed in five Games. So he will have to be satisfied sharing the honour with Ron Jones, Steve JonesColin Jackson and Berwyn Price all of whom appeared in four Games. He also shares with Colin Jackson the record number of appearances in the Olympic Games by a Welshman – four.
There is no doubt that he is one of the all-time greats of Welsh athletics having held the Welsh record for 100 and 200m since 2001 (10.11/20.08) , and reached the Olympic 200m final twice. He had a period of four years where he could claim to be the UK’s top 200m runner
His exploits on the Welsh and UK scene as a junior were well known at the time, but he made his presence felt on the world stage in 1998 when he became only the second athlete behind the eventual world 200m champion, Ato Bolden to claim a double in the world junior championships. He took both sprints in personal bests of 10.12 and 20.44, the former being a Welsh senior and UK junior record. His winning margin of 0.22 secs over Amar Johnson of the USA in the 100 was the greatest margin achieved at the time. His winning distance in the 200 was also startling – almost half a second ahead of Jairo Duzant. Since then only two other British athletes – Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (2006) and Adam Gemili (2012) have won world junior sprint titles. Christian and Bolden remain the only athletes to have achieved a sprint double in these championships. Indeed, the 2016 100m champion, Noah Lyles of the USA clocked a slower time (10.17) than Christian 18 years earlier – that’s how good Christian was. These outstanding performances made him the IAAF junior athlete of the year in 1998.
Later that year in Kuala Lumpur, as one of the youngest Welshmen to appear in the games, he went on to appear in his first Commonwealth’s when he took the 200m silver medal in a Welsh senior and European junior record of 20.29 secs. He took another Commonwealth medal when taking bronze over 200 twelve years later in Delhi. Only one other Welsh athlete has won an individual sprint medal at the Commonwealth Games – the incomparable rugby star Ken Jones in Vancouver in 1954.
Arguably his finest year was in 2001 when he missed a World Championships silver medal in the 200m by just three -hundredths of a second in Edmonton. His 20.22 was in fact only good enough for fifth behind winner and the subsequently disgraced Kenderis of Greece who won in 20.04. But second and equal third placers - Chris Williams, Shawn Crawford and Kim Collins all clocked 20.20 – in one of the closest finishes ever seen in a major sprint event. Had he repeated his semi-final form in which he won in a Welsh record of 20.08, the silver would surely have been his. Earlier, Christian had finished seventh in the 100 in a Welsh record 10.11. Both times still stand in January 2017 as Welsh records and are likely to stand for some time as no Welsh athlete has come remotely close to these times in the intervening years.
Altogether he won nine medals, including thee gold at major athletics gatherings, but he announced at the time of his retirement to be very disappointed at not winning an Olympic medal. He had to settle for being a 200m finalist twice – and the only Welsh athlete to reach an Olympic sprint final. Apart from his world junior titles in 1998, his finest performances on the world stage was when he collected sprint relay bronze medals in the 2005 Helsinki and 2007 Osaka world championships.
Unlike some of his peers, he was a keen supporter of Welsh championships winning nine senior sprint titles in a career spanning a remarkable eighteen years. On retirement he became a non-executive director of Welsh Athletics and a British relays coach.
After his world junior wins in 1998 he said: “I owe it all to my coach Jock Anderson – I’ll give him 10 out of 10” That comment remained true throughout his career, although Linford Christie subsequently took over his coaching.
He was inducted into the Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.
Clive Williams/January 2017
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