Heat 2 of men’s 400m produced an exciting duel between Kirani James and Bahamian Steven Gardiner, with both athletes running the fastest times in the semis to set up an exciting final at the ongoing World Championships in Doha.
Gardiner & James lined up in lanes five and six respectively, and it wasn’t in doubt who would take the two automatic spots, as they ran a commanding race a fast first 300m, coming off the curve on almost even grounds before Gardiner just pulled away slightly for the win in 44.13s, improving his Season’s Best by a hundredth.
James was second in an impressive time of 44.23s (SB), a time that should bolster his confidence ahead of the final, seeing that he was making a comeback from injury. Jamaica’s Demish Gaye was a third qualifier from that heat, picking up one of the two fastest loser spots in 44.66s (SB).
In heat 1, Fred Kerley put up a great performance, opening up strongly and then finishing off his race in a time of 44.26s. It was a comfortable win for the American Champion who is the second fastest in the world this season. Emmanuel Korir from the outside of Kerley, clocked an SB of 44.37s to qualify for the final, a consolation for missing out on the 800m final.
Trinidadian Machel Cendenio powered out, running his own race and just coming off the curve into the lead. He topped the last semi in an SB of 44.41 as Colombia’s Anthony Jose Zambrano finished off his race well and pulling clear of Akeem Bloomfield in a National Record (NR) of 44.55s. Bloomfield also made it through as a time qualifier in 44.77s.
However, the big talking point from the 400m semis was the placement of Michael Norman in heat 3, finishing in a surprising 7th clocking 45.94s, that ensured the American won’t compete in the final.
Coming to the World Championships, Norman was the favourite to win the 400m crown, especially as he is the fastest man in the world in 2019. He lost his rhythm mid-race and somehow wasn’t in the mix as they came into the home straight.