Second to none as Davis turns his California dream to reality

Malachi Davis, the 400m runner whose version of California dreaming is to represent Great Britain, the land of his mother's birth, at the Athens Olympics next month, confirmed his selection for the squad, albeit by finishing second in his heat at the Loughborough international meeting.

Davis was given the same finishing time of 46.30sec as the winner, Cardiff's Matt Elias, which is almost a second outside the Olympic qualifying time. The 26-year-old Davis, who comes from Sacramento, has already clocked a good enough time of 45.52 in Tucson this year, but this became irrelevant when his closest rival, Sean Baldock, could finish no better than seventh at a meeting in Madrid last night in a time of 46.37.

With his new British passport only nine days old, Davis is still adjusting to his cross-country move and his potential team-mates. He praised Elias and what he called "the other gentleman" for making it such a close race, the other gentleman being Jared Deacon, who was third, one-hundredth of a second behind him.

Davis's big occasion came in front of a smattering of spectators at the Loughborough University track on a cool, blustery afternoon. Among them was his mother, Ava, whose British birth was the catalyst in her son's switch of nationalities. Malachi thought she came from Shepherd's Bush, but Ava said, no, she just lived there. "I was born in King's Cross Hospital, within the sound of Bow Bells," she smiled.

Davis summed up his performance as "not good", adding: "I anticipated a win down the back stretch because I have now got the jet-lag out of my system. I could have run a bit more aggressively, but mentally I relaxed too much. Physically, though, I felt a lot stronger than when I competed in Manchester last weekend. In my next two races I'm looking for a faster time." Those races will be in Madrid on Wednesday and then on Sunday, when he will compete for Great Britain against the United States in Birmingham.

Davis said that just getting into the relay team would be well worth his switch of countries: "I have a good four more years before the next Olympics in China." Asked if he could name the British Prime Minister, Davis promptly came up with Tony Blair's name. "I have been following up in the newspapers," he explained. "But I have a lot of catching up to do in that area." He admitted he did not yet know the words of the national anthem, but promised: "I'll have them for you by tomorrow." He is also taking a lot of ribbing from his coaches and friends back in California. "Everybody rings me up with their best English impersonations. They expect me to have the accent down. I also get a lot of tea and fish-and-chips comments. But I'm pretty laid-back."

Davis estimated it had so far cost him in excess of $4,000 (£2,135) to make his move to Britain. "Right now I'm just relying on my credit card to keep me above water," he grinned. "I thought I was just going to be here for four days at last weekend's trials. I have had a lot of laundry to do, and the other day I was in downtown Loughborough buying clothes." It was, he claimed, not too different from downtown Los Angeles, where he now lives. "The people are nice."

Davis, who is ranked 26th fastest among US 400m men, explained his comparatively slow time at Loughborough thus: "The Olympics will bring out the best in me. I would rather run faster when it counts than peak too soon. I have another gear." Elias, a member of the Wales 400m relay team at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester two years ago, said he had no objections to Davis's adoption of British nationality. "It's great for the sport," he said. "I was only miffed we were told about it at such a late date. Had we been told, we could have prepared ourselves mentally for it. Instead we were suddenly told this American guy who has run 45.5 is British. But personally I have nothing against him." Jamie Baulch's hopes of making the British squad ended when he pulled up halfway through his heat with a hamstring injury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor