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World Championships Preview: 400 meters

World Championships Preview: 400 meters

| On 07, Aug 2013

LaShawn Merritt has regained the form that won the 2009 gold medal–but will it be enough to unseat the 2011 champion, Kirani “King” James?

(Photo courtesy

Our next set of previews for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Moscow turns to the quarter-mile and 4×400 relays.

Men’s 400

Heats: August 11th, 3:05am ET
Semifinals: August 12th, 12:05pm ET
Final: August 13th, 1:50pm ET

2011 World champion: Kirani James (Grenada)
2012 Olympic champion: James
2013 world leader: James
2013 Diamond Race leader: James

The favorites: As is clear from above, we are in the middle of the reign of Kirani James. This season he has only lost one 400 and has broken 44 seconds with a 43.96 clocking in Paris. LaShawn Merritt is the only man to defeat James this year and also the only athlete with a remote chance of spoiling his chance to defend his world title.

The Americans: Merritt has been consistent this year and will be poised to take advantage if James slips up or has an off day. Tony McQuay and Arman Hall are both solid candidates to fill the big gap that will exist once Merritt and James finish. McQuay has qualified for the last two national teams, but is yet to make a final. Look for that to change in his first complete season as a professional.
U.S. medal chances: Good

The Others: Last year’s silver medalist Luguelin Santos from the Dominican Republic has had modest results this year. Belgium’s Kevin Borlee has a Diamond League win this year and off-the-radar Yousef Masrahi of Saudi Arabia ran 44.72 in May.

Bottom line: James’s race to lose in what should be a fast time.

Women’s 400

Heats: August 10th, 10:05am ET
Semifinals: August 11th, 12:05pm ET
Final: August 12th, 1:15pm ET

2011 World champion: Amantle Montsho (Botswana)
2012 Olympic champion: Sanya Richards-Ross (USA)
2013 world leader: Montsho
2013 Diamond Race leader: Montsho

The favorites: Montsho has been the most consistent (four of the top six times) but she has been beaten on two occasions in the Diamond League. Granted, those losses were by a combined .02 seconds, but they did prove Montsho can be beaten. America’s Francena McCorory was responsible for one of those defeats and has been stone cold consistent this year.

The Americans: Natasha Hastings is in the midst of a 400-meter renaissance and she broke 50 seconds to win the US Championships in June. Ashley Spencer won the NCAA title and should make the final in her first major international championship.
U.S. medal chances: Good

The Canadian: Alicia Brown could be a future star for Canada–she won her first collegiate and open national titles this year–but simply getting out of the heats would be success for her right now.
Canadian medal chances: Virtually zero

The Others: Two Russians, Antonina Krivoshapka and Kseniya Ryzhova, both broke 50 seconds in meets in their home country. Take those times for what they are worth. Stephanie McPherson of Jamaica finished second to Montsho in Monaco and Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu can always be counted on for a late push in the final meters.

Bottom line: The safe bet is Montsho unless we can convince Allyson Felix to sneak onto the track.

Men’s 4 x 400 relay

Heats: August 15th, 11:05am ET
Final: August 16th, 1:30pm ET

2011 World champion: USA
2012 Olympic champion: Bahamas
2013 world leader: USA

The favorites: The Bahamas stunned the United States at the Olympics last year. This year, they kept it very close at the Penn Relays. With the LaShawn Merritt anchoring, the Americans are in a strong position.

The Americans: McQuay, Arman Hall and a plethora of other sub-46 second guys are on-call for the United States.
U.S. medal chances: Lock

The Others: Belgium with the triple Borlee effect (yes, there is 21-year-old Dylan) should be in the medal hunt behind the US and the Bahamas. Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and South Africa will also be in the mix for the bronze.

Bottom line: The United States gets its title back and the track universe is back in proper alignment.

Women’s 4 x 400 relay

Heats: August 16th, 3:30am ET
Final: August 17th, 11:45am ET

2011 World champion: USA
2012 Olympic champion: USA
2013 world leader: USA

The favorites: The United States will be without London gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, but it shouldn’t matter. The Americans have their characteristic depth in this event and Allyson Felix is always reliable in relay duty.

The Americans: Francena McCorory, Natasha Hastings, Ashley Spencer and Allyson Felix. All four of the women’s 400 hurdlers are also capable of running a fast quarter if needed.
U.S. medal chances: Lock

The Canadians: The team of Alicia Brown, Noelle Montcalm, Jenna Martin and Sarah Wells has an uphill battle to get out of the heats. The last Canadian Worlds finalists in this event were on home soil (Edmonton) in 2001.
Canadian medal chances: Virtually zero

The Others: Jamaica has a strong first two with Stephanie McPherson and Novelene Williams-Mills. Ditto for Great Britain with Perri Shakes-Drayton and Christine Ohuruogu. Russia is the wild card with five women under 51 seconds this year.

Bottom line: Should be a race for second unless the home team can make some magic happen.

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