His heat and semi-final had suggested something special was in the making, a medal was likely, but the only one Steven Gardiner would be concerned about in the 400 metres at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha, Qatar was gold.
The lanky Bahamian looked smooth through 350 metres and was never challenged, only showing some strain over the last few strides on his way to recording a national record of 43.48 seconds.
Even more surprising was that the United States’ Fred Kerley, the only man expected to challenge the imperious form of countryman Michael Norman, with the latter out from the semi-finals, was not just not at the top of the podium, but was also not even second.
Kerley finished in a fairly fast 44.17 seconds but the effort was eclipsed by Colombia’s José Zambrano, who posted an area record 44.15 in a final 100 metres that showed incredible heart.
The Colombian, ran through the field from lane eight, to just pip the tiring Kerley, who had resigned himself to not being at the top of the podium.
Fourth in the race was another Caribbean man, in Jamaica’s Demish Gaye, who seems to always produce his best times on the world stage, the quarter-miler running a lifetime best, 44.46 seconds.
Grenada’s medal hope, Kirani James, seemed to have used too much energy during the rounds and also went to the front very quickly in the final and could not find a way to hold on, though his 44.54 was nothing to scoff at.
Unfortunately for James, Friday featured a final where the first six athletes ran under 45 seconds, with Kenya’s Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir, running 44.94 for sixth.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio after showing some ominous signs during the rounds was outpaced and he faded badly to clock 45.30, while Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield, too tall for lane two, also found the pace too quick and faded to the back of the pack in 45.36.
Source: Paul-Andre Walker