Michael Norman claims sensational gold in Track & Field Worlds 400m 

The US athlete finishes in 44.29 to win the world title, Grenada's Kirani James wins silver and Britain's Matthew Hudson-Smith claims bronze. World record holder Wayde van Niekerk fades after promising start to finish fifth. 

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

The USA's Michael Norman delivered on the promise he has shown throughout this season by winning gold in the men's 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. The 24-year-old stormed to victory in 44.29, followed home closely by 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada and Great Britain's Matthew Hudson-Smith.

World record holder Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa set a blazing pace out of the blocks, but faded down the home straight to finish fifth.

Norman had entered the race as the favourite, having set the world lead this year with a time of 43.56. However, he would still have started this final feeling like he had something to prove after finishing Tokyo 2020 in fifth position and out of contention for the individual medals.

Up against him were two former Olympic gold medallists, James and Van Niekerk, both of whom looked to have regained form after struggles with illness and injury.

But in the end, it was Norman who showed true championship form, dominating the race to take the world title.

James, who has suffered in recent years with Graves disease, an autoimmune condition that causes an overactive thyroid, showed he is close to his brilliant best with a memorable silver medal-winning performance.

However, for Van Niekerk, there would be no such joy as the podium eluded him. Having started well, the South African looked like he was on course for a medal, but during the last 50m his stamina drained and he faded to finish in fifth position.

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Michael Norman of Team United States and Kirani James of Team Grenada
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Norman overcomes struggles to win memorable 400m gold

After the race, an elated Norman spoke about how thankful he was for the support he has received on his journey to becoming a world champion.

"It feels really good, I just really want to thank the people closest to me," he said. "My coaches, my parents, the people who've put up with my moods and whatnot to get to where I'm at right now. Just want to thank them for putting up with me because I know I can be very difficult, very needy and whatnot, but it's an amazing feeling just to kind of know that all the work I've put in since October has kind of paid off and I can say I'm a world champion."

He also elaborated on the strength of character it took to win gold, as he showed the temperament of a champion to give everything he had to win the final.

"My coach gave me three things to think about before the race and one of them was to dig deep. That was the biggest reminder I had going into the home stretch, who wants the gold more. Just feeling the energy of the crowd, just dug deep. Remembered all the practices, all the hard training days and all the sacrifices I had to make for this moment."

"This moment here is going to be remembered forever so I wanted to make sure that all the people who are the closest to me who understood what my objective was this year will never try to get me out of my path of success and will never doubt myself."

Grenada's silver medallist James, who has now won a medal of every colour at the World Championships following gold in Daegu in 2011 and bronze at Beijing 2015, spoke about how tough it was to chase down Norman after the American had built a lead down the final straight.

"I knew it was always going to be a battle with Michael. I thought I had a good advantage to beat him, to see him in front of me. But catching him, it is never going to be easy."

Meanwhile, Britain's Huson-Smith spoke movingly about his mental health struggles in recent years that left him contemplating taking his own life.

"Obviously 2018 was good, won Europeans even though Commonwealths didn't go to plan. In 2019, tore my Achilles, tore my hamstring, messed up my hip," he reflected.

"2020 was COVID, a huge mental health issue and 2021, not a lot of people know this but I attempted suicide. I was racing knowing I was hurt all the time, going to races knowing I was not 100 per cent. Couldn't do Olympics for several reasons and it's been mental.

"Everyone who's been around me, I just thank them for not giving up on me because a lot of people would have."

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