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WATCH: Brave effort by Wayde van Niekerk, but Michael Norman claims 400m gold

men’s sprinters in full stride

(From left) Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, Matthew Hudson-Smith of Great Britain, Michael Norman of the US and Kirani James of Grenada compete in the men's 400m final at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA, 22 July 2022. Picture: Etienne Laurent/EPA

Published Jul 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Wayde van Niekerk displayed all his courage in a brave effort, but just missed out on a medal in the men's 400m final at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon on Friday night (Saturday 4.50am SA time).

The 400m world record-holder showed his class in the heat and semi-final already, having battled with injuries for most of the season.

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So, just qualifying for the final was already a significant achievement for the South African legend, considering that he had run just one 400m race in 2022 before arriving at this event.

But knowing Van Niekerk, that fierce competitive spirit would have been burning inside him, and he would have eyed a medal.

The 30-year-old put his marker down right at the start as he was quick out of the blocks and fourth-fastest in the first 100m split in a time of 10.98 seconds.

But Grenada's former Olympic champion Kirani James made a blistering start and maintained his pace throughout by leading at each 100m split heading into the final straight.

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James looked on course for the gold medal, but then Michael Norman of the United States found another gear in the closing stages to clinch his first world title in a time of 44.29 seconds.

James had to settle for silver in 44.48, while Matthew Hudson-Smith took the bronze in 44.66.

Two-time world champion and Rio Olympics winner Van Niekerk was in contention in the early stages in lane seven.

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He seemed to push harder as he went through the last bend to keep in touch with James, Norman and Hudson-Smith, and was fourth but not far behind the leading trio at that point.

But despite ranging up on and running side by side with Hudson-Smith with about 50 metres to go, Van Niekerk just ran out of steam in the last 15 metres as Norman darted past James and raised his arms in triumph to become the world champion.

Van Niekerk had to settle for fifth place in a time of 44.97 as he was passed by a second American, Champion Allison, who finished fourth in 44.77.

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In the men's 4x100m relay heats, South Africa advanced to the final by finishing third in their race to secure automatic qualification.

Henricho Bruintjies, Emile Erasmus, Clarence Munyai and Akani Simbine made up the SA quartet, who clocked 38.31 seconds to finish with a season's best time.

France, anchored by the experienced Jimmy Vicaut, took the honours in 38.09, followed by Canada - anchored by Andre de Grasse - in 38.10.

Bruintjies, Erasmus and Munyai combined to put South Africa in about fifth position heading into the final 100m, but then Simbine motored through to the finish to grab third in 38.31.

South Africa have been drawn in lane seven for Saturday’s final (Sunday morning 4.50am SA time), but will have their work cut out to get a medal.

The United States will be the team to beat after they posted a world lead time of 37.87, despite the absence of the injured 100m champion Fred Kerley, as Christian Coleman, 200m champion Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy got the job done.

The other South African in action was young sensation Prudence Sekgodiso in the women's 800m semi-finals, but she missed out on a final spot by four-10ths of a second.

Running in the last semi-final, the 20-year-old SA champion was in a tough field against Uganda's defending champion Halimah Nakaayi and American Olympic gold medallist Athing Mu.

Sekgodiso was third from the back at the bell after an opening lap of 58.18, but made a valiant effort over the last 200 metres to end fifth in 2:00.01.

Mu, as expected, won the race in 1:58.12, and will be hard to beat in Friday's final (Saturday 3.35am SA time).

Men's 400m final results

1 Michael Norman (USA) 44.29

2 Kirani James (Grenada) 44.48

3 Matthew Hudson-Smith (Great Britain) 44.66

4 Champion Allison (USA) 44.77

5 Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) 44.97

6 Bayapo Ndori (Botswana) 45.29

7 Christopher Taylor (Jamaica) 45.30

8 Jonathan Jones (Barbados) 46.13

@ashfakmohamed

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