In an entertaining 400m final, it was Steven Gardiner who rose to the top to win Bahamas’ first gold medal of the Games. Gardiner came around the bend at 300m with his eyes on the finish line and never looked back. The 2019 world champion was dominant in the heats, but it was his 44.14 in the semifinal (beating pre-race favourites Wayde Van Niekerk and Michael Norman) that put him into medal contention. Gardiner saved his best performance for the final, blazing around the track for his season’s best time of 43.85.
Steven Gardiner wins the final of the men’s 400m in a time of 43.85s.
— Jared Higgs (@JHiggslive) August 5, 2021
Norman of the U.S was out to a swift start as he led the one-lap race for three quarters of it, then faded into fifth when crossing the line. Also off the podium was Michael Cherry of the U.S., who finished fourth after arriving in Tokyo having run one of the fastest times of the year. Cherry ran a personal best of 44.23 in the final, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with silver medallist Anthony Zambrano of Colombia and bronze medallist Kirani James of Grenada. Race fans speculated that the timing of the U.S. Trials was too close to the Games to allow for dominant performances by the Americans.
Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas wins gold in the men’s 400m in 43.85!
Colombia’s Anthony José Zambrano takes silver in 44.08.
A bronze for the 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James of Granada in 44.19.
— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) August 5, 2021
James earned his third straight medal in the 400m at an Olympic Games: h won gold in London, silver in Rio and now completes his set with a bronze in Tokyo.
The 400m final was missing the prolific world record holder Van Niekerk, who failed to qualify in the semifinals. He voiced to the media that his body is entirely back to normal after suffering a severe knee injury while playing rugby in 2017. Van Niekerk plans to run more 400m races to come in prepared for the 2022 World Championships at Hayward Field, Ore.
Track and field fans were hoping for Gardiner to stroll out in a baggy t-shirt for the final after he created some conversation on his competition attire in the semifinal. Gardiner took a page out of Usain Bolt’s competition wardrobe as he came out for the sprint final in his Bahamas tank top and half tights.
Steven Gardiner wins heat 3 in a baggy t-shirt. 44.14 has to be some kind of t-shirt world record.
Michael Norman moves on to the final. pic.twitter.com/rTAhBYrLUb
— RunnerSpace (@runnerspace) August 2, 2021