World Champs Men’s 400 — No Disappointment This Time

Michael Norman lived up to his rating as the formchart favorite. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THIS WAS THE FOCUS of Michael Norman’s quest for redemption after his disappointments at Doha ’19 and Tokyo ’21. He entered with the year’s fastest times, a 43.60 at Pre and a 43.56 effort at the USATF meet that he described as “far from perfect.”

Perhaps equally important, history’s fifth-fastest performer would not need to face two of his nemeses. World and Olympic gold medalist Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) withdrew because of an inflamed foot tendon, and American Fred Kerley chose to contest the shorter sprints (“I’ll get back to the 400”).

Regardless, there were plenty of challengers. A much-improved American, Champion Allison (43.70), had battled Norman to the finish three weeks earlier. Teammate Michael Cherry, 4th at Tokyo, was also the ’21 Diamond League winner.

Former world champion and 3-time Olympic medalist Kirani James of Grenada was enjoying an excellent, healthy season. And there was always the spectre of the WR holder, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk, seemingly progressing from a series of debilitating injuries.

The first round was notable only for stiff adverse backstretch winds, a very smooth and strong van Niekerk, and a quick PR of 44.87 by Botswana’s Bayapo Ndori.

Norman went out hard in semi I, but Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith led at 200 (21.06), and Norman was only able to catch him when he eased up in the stretch, 44.30–44.38.

James ran a very relaxed 44.74 in semi II, ahead of the surprising Ndori. Cherry faded in the last 80m and was eliminated.

Off very fast in semi III, van Niekerk passed 200 in 20.97, well in front of Jonathan Jones (Barbados) and Allison. Both caught him in the final 40m, and all three advanced, Allison prevailing in 44.71.

Two days later, the finalists went to their marks. From the inside: Christopher Taylor, Jones, James, Norman, Hudson-Smith, Allison, van Niekerk, Ndori.

James was out fastest, leading Norman 10.81-10.83 at 100m, with Jamaica’s Taylor 3rd. Down the backstraight into a slight wind, the Grenadan maintained his advantage, passing 200 in 20.95. Norman was 2nd (21.12), Hudson-Smith 3rd (21.14), and van Niekerk 4th (21.33).

James held on past the 300 (31.98) and the order remained the same, but the four were very close, well clear of the others.

Down the homestretch, Norman pumped his arms hard, gradually moving past James with 50m remaining, then drawing clear and flinging his arms aloft as he crossed the line in 44.29. James followed at 44.48, while Hudson-Smith faded, and narrowly preserved the bronze medal from the onrushing Allison 44.66–44.77.

James, who now owns complete sets of both World and Olympic medals, said,“I knew it was always going to be a battle with Michael. I thought I had a good advantage, seeing him in front of me, but catching him, it is never going to be easy.”

Hudson-Smith’s mission continues: “I think the European record will go now, that is the next thing. I was ready to get a medal and got it.”

Norman had the final words. “I want to remember what got me here, and I am just thankful to everybody who supported me throughout my whole career. I have to stay disciplined. I just wanted to make sure that I did everything that I could have possibly have done to become the new world champion.”


MEN’S 400 RESULTS

FINAL (July 22)

(temperature 77F/25C; humidity 50%)

1. Michael Norman (US) 44.29

(10.83, 10.29 [21.12], 10.92 [32.04], 12.25) (21.12/23.17);

2. Kirani James (Grn) 44.48

(10.81, 10.14 [20.95], 11.03 [31.98], 12.50) (20.95/23.53);

3. Matthew Hudson-Smith (GB) 44.66

(10.98, 10.16 [21.14], 10.99 [32.13], 12.53) (21.14/23.52);

4. Champion Allison (US) 44.77

(11.22, 10.35 [21.57], 11.19 [32.76], 12.01) (21.57/23.20);

5. Wayde van Niekerk (SA) 44.97

(10.98, 10.35 [21.33], 10.88 [32.21], 12.76) (21.33/23.64);

6. Bayapo Ndori (Bot) 45.29

(11.05, 10.40 [21.45], 11.17 [32.62], 12.67) (21.45/23.84);

7. Christopher Taylor (Jam) 45.30

(10.91, 10.52 [21.43], 11.38 [32.81], 12.49) (21.43/23.87);

8. Jonathan Jones (Bar) 46.13

(11.07, 10.39 [21.46], 11.40 [32.86], 13.27) (21.46/24.67).

(lanes: 1. Taylor; 2. Jones; 3. James; 4. Norman; 5. Hudson-Smith; 6. Allison; 7. van Niekerk; 8. Ndori)

(reaction times: 0.137 Ndori, 0.140 Norman & James, 0.148 Allison, 0.155 Jones, 0.169 Hudson-Smith & Taylor, 0.248 van Niekerk)

HEATS (July 17)

I–1. van Niekerk 45.18; 2. Jones 45.46; 3. Alex Haydock-Wilson (GB) 45.62; 4. Julian Walsh (Jpn) 45.90; 5. Patrik Šorm (CzR) 46.07; 6. Steven Solomon (Aus) 46.87.

II–1. Norman 45.37; 2. Taylor 45.68; 3. Zakithi Nene (SA) 45.69; 4. Kevin Borlée (Bel) 45.72; 5. Benjamin Lobo Vedel (Den) 46.27; 6. Luis Avilés (Mex) 46.47; 7. Kajetan Duszyński (Pol) 46.57.

III–1. Michael Cherry (US) 45.81; 2. Muzala Simukonga (Zam) 45.82; 3. Alexander Doom (Bel) 46.18; 4. Jevaughn Powell (Jam) 46.42; 5. Ricky Petrucciani (Swi) 46.60; 6. Antony Pesela (Bot) 47.36; 7. Obediah Timbaci (Van) 53.32.

IV–1. Allison 45.56; 2. Dylan Borlée (Bel) 45.70; 3. Isaac Makwala (Bot) 45.93; 4. Mikhail Litvin (Kaz) 46.00; 5. Davide Re (Ita) 46.49; 6. Dwight St. Hillaire (Tri) 46.60; 7. Boško Kijanović (Ser) 46.85.

V–1. Ndori 44.87 PR; 2. James 45.29; 3. Nathon Allen (Jam) 45.61; 4. Fuga Sato (Jpn) 45.88; 5. Alex Beck (Aus) 45.99; 6. Edoardo Scotti (Ita) 46.46; 7. Dexter Mayorga (Nic) 48.40.

VI–1. Hudson-Smith 45.49; 2. Liemarvin Bonevacia (Neth) 45.82; 3. Lidio Feliz (DR) 45.87; 4. Christopher O’Donnell (Ire) 46.01; 5. Kaito Kawabata (Jpn) 46.34; 6. Lucas Carvalho (Bra) 47.53; 7. Aiden Hazzard (AIA) 51.44.

SEMIS (July 20)

I–1. Norman 44.30; 2. Hudson-Smith 44.38; 3. Taylor 44.97; 4. Nene 45.24; 5. D. Borlée 45.41; 6. Walsh 45.75; 7. Feliz 46.19; 8. Beck 46.21.

II–1. James 44.74; 2. Ndori 44.94; 3. Simukonga 45.02 PR; 4. Cherry 45.28; 5. Sato 45.71; 6. Doom 45.80; 7. O’Donnell 46.01;… dnf—Allen.

III–1. Allison 44.71; 2. van Niekerk 44.75; 3. Jones 44.78; 4. Haydock-Wilson 45.08 PR; 5. K. Borlée 45.26; 6. Bonevacia 45.50; 7. Litvin 45.63; 8. Makwala 46.04. ◻︎