Rio 2016 Olympics
Hard to call who will be crowned champion in the men's 400m final

One thing is certain at this Rio Olympics, the men’s 400m final will be very fast maybe close to the World Record, but we are not sure who will be crowned the quarter-mile champion.

Will it be Wayde Van Niekerk, LaShawn Merritt or Kirani James? Very difficult to call as all trio have the credentials to win. Definitely it will boil down to who is fresher in the final and striding better in the home straight.

When Van Niekerk won the 2015 World title in Beijing, he ran the race of his life to win in 43.48s, the sixth fastest time ever. Such was the amount of energy he exerted that he ended up being stretchered out of the arena. This time around in Rio, Merritt & James will be with him all the way, knowing what threat he is, and also their own quest for personal glory.

On the evidence of his Beijing heroics, Van Nierkerk is undoubtedly the favourite to win GOLD in Rio, and will be hoping he can reignite that showing that saw him lead from start to finish, running a monstrous last 200m that saw him storm away from the chasing pack. That was the fastest by any one lap runner in the world since Jeremy Wariner in 2007.

Van Niekerk this year ran his first sub 10s, crossing the line in 9.98s in Bloemfontein as he became the first man in history to run a sub 43s in the 400m, sub 20s in the 200m and sub 10s in the 100m. Was he working on his 400m finish? Seems likely.

Merrit this year has run the fastest time in the quarter mile, clocking 43.97s to win at the US trials, while James on his part is the second fastest with 44.08s and Van Niekerk third fastest with 44.11s. So in essence they are the top three ranked in the men’s 400m going to the Olympics.

In fact to further explain the dominance of: Merritt, James and Van Niekerk, each of them has two (apiece) out of the top six fastest times in the world this year. Merritt on his part has three of the top 7 fastest times this year, which explains why the race could swing either way.

While Merritt is a former Olympic champion, James on his part is the defending champion, so can Van Niekerk complete the cycle and join them in the elite list?

Somehow all three have not raced against each other in 2016, just James and Merritt who were at the Des Moines Drake Relays, both always tend to compete there yearly. James won the race in 44.08s with Merritt 2nd in 44.22s.

It could be that Michael Johnson’s 400m World Record of 43.18s might be on the cards, or maybe his Olympic Record of 43.49s, because these trio will definitely raise the roof with glittering performances.

Men’s 400m is such a technical race that you have to execute three flawless races to win, and we don’t think there are others better than these three at the moment.

Botswana duo of Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe could make the final, and that frankly will be a good achievement, but the podium places in no particular order will without an iota of doubt go to Van Niekerk, James and Merritt, although we don’t know what colour of medal either will come out with in Brazil.

Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.



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