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    Report: men&x27s 400m final – Rio 2016 Olympic Games | REPORT | World Athletics

    following wayde van niekerk’s win at the beijing 2015 iaaf world championships in 43.48, there was a prevailing feeling that michael johnson’s 20-year olympic record, which was just one-hundredth of that mark , could be in danger in river .

    Instead, it was his world record* that fell.

    Reading: 400m athletics rio 2016 video

    In an impressive 43.03, the South African was 0.15 shy of Johnson’s mark set at the 1999 IAAF World Championships, and yet for much of the race it didn’t look like van Niekerk had the guarantee of winning the gold medal.

    kirani james made his usual fast start in the first 200m, but the 2012 grenade olympic champion, in lane six, only acted as the pacemaker for his predecessor, lashawn merriitt, ​​in the inside lane.

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    merritt got on james’s shoulder as they entered the second turn at van niekerk’s level, but the crucial part of the race came in the 250-300m 50m when van niekerk, who in hindsight had clearly distributed his far, far better effort began to gain ground and he entered the final stretch by a fraction ahead of his two rivals.

    Post-race video analysis showed van Niekerk topping the 300m in 31.0, compared to Johnson’s 31.66 in Seville, but James and Merritt were also within the American legend’s time.

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    with 70 meters to go, van niekerk was able to maintain his sprint home and there was the optical illusion of merritt and james falling back even though they were both operating at speeds of less than 44 seconds.

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    South Africa’s first track and field gold in 20 years

    van niekerk continued to push forward and the gap between him and the other two leading men continued to widen, before taking South Africa’s first track and field Olympic gold since josia thugwane won the marathon in 1996.

    “I thought I could get the world record,” van Niekerk said. “I have dreamed of this medal forever. I am blessed.

    “these are guys who inspired me: usain bolt, michael johnson, I learned from them, and even the guys who competed against me today, lashawn merritt and kirani james, these are guys who inspired me.”

    Behind him, Merritt looked on track to repeat the silver medal he won behind Van Niekerk in Beijing last summer, but he started to tire about 30 yards from home and James passed him to reverse their places in the podium in the Chinese capital.

    james finished in 43.76, just 0.02 off his best, while merritt came home in 43.85, disappointment etched on the US champion’s face.

    See also: Kipchoge breaks two-hour marathon mark

    Nearly breaking a four-man record under 44 seconds in the same race, 2014 Under-20 World Champion Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago stormed through the final 50 meters to claim fourth place in a record national of 44.01.

    Earlier, the revelation of this event in river, botswana’s karabo sibanda improved again to 44.25 to become the third best under-20 athlete in a lap of the track, while bahrain’s ali khamis khamis set a national record of 44.36 in sixth place.

    grenada’s bralon taplin finished seventh in 44.45 and great britain’s matthew hudson-smith was eighth in 44.61.

    In addition to van Niekerk’s world record, and becoming the first man to win an Olympic 400m title from lane eight, the fastest times for fourth through eighth place were recorded.

    phil minshull for the iaaf

    *subject to normal ratification procedures

    See also: Athletics at the 1936 summer olympics – men’s 4 × 100 metres relay

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