BEIJING, China—Day five of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships saw Team USA bounce back from being shut out of the podium Tuesday with medals in the women’s 400 hurdles and men’s 400 Wednesday night at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
In the men’s 400, defending champion LaShawn Merritt (left/photo by Paul Merca) ended up running a personal best of 43.65, but fell short of Wayde van Niekerk from South Africa, who ended up winning with a 43.48, while American trained Kirani James of Grenada ran 43.78 to capture third in the first race in history that three men broke 44 seconds.
To give perspective on van Niekerk’s winning dash, he becomes the fourth best performer all-time behind Michael Johnson’s world record 43.18; Butch Reynolds’ 43,29, and Jeremy Wariner’s 43.45 to win the 2007 world title.
In other finals, Kenya’s Julius Yego won the men’s javelin with a throw of 304-2 (92.72m), the furthest throw in the world this season, and Kenya’s first ever medal of any color in a field event; Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic defended her 400 hurdles title in a time of 53.50, with collegian Shamier Little of Texas A&M second in 53.94, and Cassandra Tate third in 54.02 to get the USA the other spot on the podium; and, Yarisley Silva of Cuba won the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 16-0.75 (4.90m); and Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi won the women’s 3000 steeplechase in 9:19.11.
In qualifying events contested Wednesday morning involving athletes from the Pacific Northwest, defending champion Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Beaverton based Nike Oregon Project, qualified for the finals in the men’s 5000 by finishing second in his heat in 13:19.44, while Oregon alum and NOP teammate Galen Rupp was eighth in his heat in 13:20.78. US national champ Ryan Hill of the Beaverton-based Bowerman TC was sixth in his heat in 13:19.67.