Bahamian Steven Gardiner had last lost a one lap race back in the 2017 edition of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.
That was the night of South African Wayde van Niekerk, and Gardiner had to settle for silver that night despite a spectacular season till then, winning every single event that year, but missing out on the yellow metal when it mattered the most.
Yesterday, after the pre-event favourite Michael Norman was out in the semi-finals, it was Gardiner’s night, as the 24-year-old capped an unbeaten season in the 400m discipline with a sizzling fast 43.48s to win the gold he had missed out last time.
Pan American champion Anthony Jose Zambrano (44.15) won silver as American Fred Kerley (44.17) had to settle for bronze as they finished within 0.02 seconds of each other.
Former champion Kirani James of Grenada rounded off the top five finishing in a time of 44.54s, behind Jamaican Demish Gaye.
As his country tries to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in August, the value of the two medals – his gold and Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s silver the day before – is not lost on Gardiner.
“It’s so big to win two medals for the Bahamas after the Hurricane. We did it for our country. Thank God, we were able to get two medals,” Gardiner said after the victory. Talking about his rounds, he said, “I went through the rounds perfectly each day and I can’t believe I am a world champion. I feel pretty good.”
Zombrano’s medal too held significance as it was Colombia’s first track medal at a World Championships.
“After three World Championships, I am a world silver medallist in such a deep field, beating so many top guys. My racing tactics worked. If I ‘lose’ my legs, it doesn’t matter. I trained to achieve this and I sure my good things will come,” said Zombrano after he ran a South American record for his silver medal.
As he reminisced his difficult times, Zombrano said, “I would like to thank my coach, my mom, my physiotherapist and my training team. I would like to thank those who believed in me when I was going through tough times.
“Two people are key for me to be here and make history for Colombia: my coach Nelson Gutierrez and my physiotherapist Caridad Martinez. They fed me when I had nothing to eat. I lacked discipline but I regrouped to train hard every day. Look how far I have come and how farther I can take my career if I continue to flight as I have.”
Kerley is only looking forward after his bronze. “I am very proud to win my first individual World medal and it’s only up from there and see what I can work on during the off season.
Nobody in my hometown knows too much about track so. Just to put Taylor, Texas, on the map is a blessing. I am glad to see Kirani (James) back and I hope Wayde (van Niekerk) comes back. It will be a blessing for next year,” Kerley said.
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