Great men’s 400m expected in Doha
With Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield now selected to compete in Doha, Qatar, at the 17th IAAF World Championships, a great men’s 400m field will clash when the meet begins on September 28. Bloomfield’s presence will run the number of Doha-bound sub-44-second performers to six. With such quality in the one-lap contest, it’s little wonder that world record talk has begun.
This super six is led by Americans Michael Norman and Fred Kerley and is completed by four men from the Caribbean: Kirani James, Grenada’s 2012 Olympic champion; Bahamian Steven Gardiner; and the Jamaican pair of Rusheen McDonald and Bloomfield. Norman leads the pack after drawing even in April with 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner at 43.45 seconds, tying him for the fourth fastest time of all time.
Kerley, Gardiner, and Bloomfield have run under 44 seconds either this year or last year, leading Norman to believe that Wayde van Niekerk’s 400m world record of 43.03 seconds could soon be in danger. Asked last month when he might be able to add the outdoor record to the indoor version he set at 44.52 seconds last year, Norman was cautious but clear.
“That’s a tough question,” he began. “I mean, honestly, I think when it happens, it happens. But I’m not going to put a specific time frame on it, but, hopefully, if not this year, then next year, I think it’s for sure going to go down.”
Though van Niekerk is out with a continuation of his injury issues, depth in the 400m is at a high. Kerley beat him to win the US National Championships in 43.64 seconds, with James, Gardiner, the injury-plagued McDonald, and Bloomfield holding personal bests of 43.74, 43.87, 43.93, and 43.94 seconds, respectively.
Norman believes that competition will fuel a run on the record.
“I think there’s a lot of great talent in the 400m, and we’re just going to push each other to this next level,” he theorised, “and so we’re going to challenge each other, so, hopefully, real soon.”
However, 400m world records tend to last. When Harry ‘Butch’ Reynolds took the world record to 43.29 seconds in 1988, he erased a legendary mark of 43.86 seconds that had been established by Lee Evans in the 1968 Olympics. Eleven years later, Johnson clocked 43.18 seconds to win the 1999 World Championships. That mark lasted 17 years until van Niekerk ran 43.03 at the 2016 Olympics to log 43.03 seconds from lane eight.
The Doha field should also include a trio with personal-best times of 44.01, 44.02, and 44.07 seconds. They are 2016 Olympic finalists Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago, Botswana’s Bablooki Thebe, and 2017 World bronze-medal winner Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar, respectively.