News & Updates

10 May 2024 • Track and Field

Lex looks to take down national 400m record

Lex Revell-Lewis celebrates his breakthrough 400m PB of 46.12 – which came tantalisingly close to the 26-year-old national 400m record.

Sprint ace Lex Revell-Lewis was one of the stars of the domestic track and field campaign, featuring strongly over 100, 200m and his premier event – the 400m. We profile the 20-year-old Aucklander who looks all set for a very special future in the sport.

In the afterglow of the stunning success enjoyed by the New Zealand team at the World Athletics Indoor Championships, Lex Revell-Lewis maintained the feelgood factor in the sport here in Aotearoa by blasting to within 0.03 of the 26-year-old national men’s 400m record.

The performance by the rising 20-year-old sprint star at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co was gratefully welcomed as he destroyed his previous PB by 1.22 and come within a whisker of Shaun Farrell’s long-standing New Zealand record.

“I had a great night’s sleep the day before competition, and I raced the 100m about 30 minutes or so before the 400m at Sir Graeme Douglas (International), explains Lex. “I love racing over the 100m before the 400m, it feels like I’m fully warmed up and all the stars aligned on the day. There is something about running on your home track, which is special. I had my eyes on that record since I won the 2019 New Zealand Secondary Schools (400m) title. It was cool to come so close.”

Raised in the West Auckland suburb of Avondale to a mum of Samoan heritage and white European dad, Lex has been involved in athletics since before he can remember. A member of Avondale AC since the age of two he recalls some of his earliest memories competing on the grass track at Eastdale Reserve with his friends on club nights and from the early days he fully embraced the sport.

“I have never really enjoyed team sports, I really like athletics and that ability to control your own results,” he explains. “I enjoy the freedom and simplicity of being in your own lane and just running.”

Believing he has adopted his sprinting gifts from his mum’s side of the family, he showed rich promise from a relatively early age. He quickly gravitated to the 400m and won medals at Colgate Games and Auckland Championships. Gold medals would be secured a little later in his career, but why does Lex feel he is so well suited to the one-lap distance?

“I’ve always loved running all events from 100m to 800m,” he says. “I’d even do the occasional 1500m. I guess 400m is that middle ground between the speed you need for the 100m and the endurance of the 800m.”

In 2019 and now running for Waitakere AC he connected with his current coach Nuree Greenhalgh. The pair instantly connected and have forged a highly successful coach-athlete relationship which was illustrated later that year as Lex too out the junior boys’ 400m title in 51.67 at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in Wellington.

Admitting he was taken aback by the victory he proved it was no fluke by later that season taking out the national U18 400m title in Christchurch.

So, what are Nuree’s strengths as a coach?

“Nuree is a teacher and having that ability to teach in good way really helps,” explains Lex.

In 2021 when still an Avondale College student he claimed the Auckland 400m title but was denied the chance that year to compete at the national U18 Championships following its unfortunate cancellation before of Covid.

But it was perhaps during the 2022 campaign when the Aucklander really started to make waves after making a one and a quarter second improvement at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland to win in 47.49 and dip under the World U20 Championships entry standard. Once again performing on his home track had delivered a staggering breakthrough performance – which came as a huge shock to Lex after enduring a troubled build up to the 2022 summer campaign.

“That moment was special to me because I’d missed three months of preparation after a stress fracture to the foot,” explains Lex. “I wasn’t running the times I wanted early in the season but had a big breakthrough at Auckland Champs to run a PB of 48.75. I went into Sir Graeme Douglas with no great expectations, and I was 100 per cent surprised (with the time). I don’t know how I was able to run that fast. There is something special about running on your home track.”

Later that season he secured the national U20 400m title before ending his domestic campaign with a bronze medal at the Australian Championships over the one-lap distance. He later competed at the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia only for an untimely hamstring niggle to prevent him from producing his best as he exited the heats of the 400m. Nonetheless, he prefers to dwell on the positives of his debut appearance on the global stage.

“I was disappointed, but it was a good learning experience for me. Just seeing so many quality athletes is something we don’t get to see here in New Zealand,” he adds.

Lex suffered another six-week lay-off due to another stress fracture of the foot leading into the 2023 season but still enjoyed a successful campaign taking out the national senior 400m title in Wellington and securing bronze at the Australian Championships in a PB of 47.36.

Yet nothing can quite match his 2024 season in which he has not only obliterated his PB in the 400m but also posted lifetime bests in the 100m (10.52) and 200m (21.04) to head the New Zealand rankings in both the 200m and 400m and joint-fourth over the 100m distance.

Training six times a week with four track sessions and two gym session per week, Lex has a very simple analysis as to why he has performed so well during the 2023-2024 track and field season.

“For the first time in a number of seasons I’ve been injury free,” he explains. “I’ve also trained a lot smarter. I’m listening to my body a lot more and only doing what I need to do, not doing anything extra. We have a big emphasis on speed believing that to be able to run fast over 400m we need to lift my speed over the 100m and 200m. I’ve also worked on a number of technical elements too.”

The PB’s and winning performances have arrived like a tsunami in 2024. Almost every week during the summer, Lex was either smashing PB’s, winning or delivering both as one of the quiet success stories of the season consistently impressed. A week after his jaw-dropping breakthrough at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co he retained his national 400m crown in 46.56 – the second fastest time of his career – before taking the senior men’s 200m silver behind Angus Lyver.

Proud of his overall efforts in Wellington and across the course of the season the University of Auckland electrical engineering student does, however, insist he has not delivered on any of his time goals so far in 2024.

“I came very close, but I want to run a sub 10.5 100m, sub-21 second 200m and sub-46 400m,” he says.

And he still has time to deliver on those goals. Lex will compete over 200m and 400m at the Oceania Championships in Fiji in early June before he embarks on a six-week European tour. Based out of Belgium, where he will be travelling and training with national 100m champion Tiaan Whelpton and New Zealand 110m hurdles record-holder Josh Hawkins, the young sprinter is relishing the opportunity and has set himself some big goals.

“My endurance has never been better, and I think I can win the 400m at Oceania Champs,” he explains. “Once my speed gets there, I think I can run even quicker – 100 per cent I want to run 45 seconds something and break that New Zealand record.”

And in the longer term?

“Well, its four years to the next Olympic Games and my big goal is to make that Olympic final in LA in with a chance of medalling.”