The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

2012 400 Meter Rankings – Men/Women

Dec 26th, 2012
10:18 am PDT

Kirani JamesWhile the short sprints have been on fire since 2008, the 400 has struggled a bit. The previous two men’s Olympic champions – and sub 44 performers – have suffered injuries at the wrong times. While several emerging stars have been up and down, and injury prone. on the women’s side, we seem to have difficulty getting out of the 49 second zone – a barrier broken back in 1976! 

There was good news on the men’s side in 2012 however, as we saw the first non American run under 44.00. We also had several youngsters emerge from the Caribbean running in the 44.50 range. Now we just need to get a few women running in the 48’s to get this event spiced up a bit & bring the event into the 2000’s.

All that said, there were some outstanding performers in 2012. Here is my ranking of the events top athletes.

Men’s 400 Meter Rankings

1. Kirani James (Grenada) — The youngest ever World champion came back in 2012 and added the Olympic title. His path was made a bit easier with the injury of LaShawn Merritt prior to London, but James proved his worth with a sizzling 43.94 PR to take gold. Wins in Daegu, London (Aviva), Linz, and Lausanne confirm his position as #1 in 2012.

2. Luguelin Santos (Dominican Republic) — Santos was undoubtedly the most prolific quartermiler on the year as he competed in no less than 15 finals on the season.  His six wins included the World Jr. title. His six runner ups Included Olympic silver. Not too shabby for the then18 year old. Throw in a PR 44.45, and it looks like he and James could have some serious battles in the years to come. 

3. LaShawn Merritt (United States) — Merritt looked ready to defend his Olympic title early as he scorched the track for a 44.19 in early May; sped 20.14 in the deuce; then blazed 44.12 to win the Trials. He headed into his tuneup race before London undefeated and the hottest quartermiler on the planet. But a muscle injury in Monaco left him unable to finish the race. Then he repeated in the first round in London – his season over. Still all things considered, only the two men ahead of him had better seasons.

4. Jonathon Borlee (Belgium) — Borlee only managed 6th in London after a 44.43 PR in his opening round – but was never worse than 3rd (Birmingham) in any other meet and was 2nd in Linz and Brussels, and win in Monaco. That’s enough in my book to earn him the #4 spot in spite of his let down in London.

5. Kevin Borlee (Belgium) — Tough call here, but like his brother, his record outside of his 5th place finish in London was very solid. This included a 4th at Pre, a pair of 3rds in Monaco & Lausanne, and a win in Brussels.The twins season ere very similar, and they finish adjacent to each other in my ranking.


Women’s 400 Meter Rankings

1.Sanya Richards Ross (United States) — Sanya had a near flawless season winning Olympic gold, the Trials, and meets in Ostrava, Eugene, Stockholm, and Zurich. Only a 2nd in Kingston marred her season. Now if she can just get into the 48s with some regularity.

2. Amantle Montsho (Botswana) — Montsho just missed the podium in London finishing a close fourth. That was the only time she finished worse than 2nd all season however,  as she won in Paris & Oslo; and was runner up in Eugene, Aviva, Stockholm and Zurich. Clearly making her the number two quartermiler behind R- Ross.

3. Christine Ohuruogu (Great Britain) — After the top two, things get a bit more difficult, but the most consistent of the rest was Olympic silver medalist Ohuruogu. As usual she was at her best in the Major, but was also runner-up in Ostrava & Birmingham, and third in Kingston & Stockholm. Solid enough for my third slot.

4. Novlene Williams Mills (Jamaica) — Fifth place in London, Novlene gets a place higher on my list. Winner early in Kingston & Shanghai, she came second in New York & Paris, and third in Eugene.

5. Antonina Krivoshapka (Russia) — The leader on the clock in 2012, Krivoshapka’s best races came outside of major competitions. She finished sixth in London before a pair of fourth place finishes in Stockholm & Zurich. Only enough for the fifth spot on the year.

So that’s my ranking of the 400 meters. While I’m tempted to skip over to the hurdles, I’ll continue in order with the 800 meters which was very exciting in 2012!

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6 Responses to “2012 400 Meter Rankings – Men/Women”

  1. Steve says:

    Having just started reading your recent article, I had to stop and let you know that Kirani James is from “Grenada” not granada which is in Spain. Caribbean ppl would tend to take offence with this misspelling and it’s implications :).

    • CHill says:

      Ah the difference one letter can make.. Thank you for that .. You’re right, some might take offense .. Appreciate it ..

  2. Waynebo says:

    Nothing to dispute on this list. On point as always. Jonathan Borlee was clearly in the best shape of his life as evidenced by the PR. I hope he learned a valuable lesson in managing the rounds in a major. If so we should see him (and his brother) in the thick of it for a few more years if they train properly and continue to gain strength. Santos & James are obviously great talents. One can only hope they can link up with coaches who are 400m specialists and maybe in a few years we’ll see one of them challenge MJ’s record.

    As far as the women, I think we may be close to the legitimate limit for them – mid to low 48’s. We haven’t seen 2 women run 48 in a race since Freeman & Jose-Perec in the late 90’s (please correct me if I’m wrong on that). I say this because 1) the 47’s are obviously tainted IMO, 2) even in the U.S. where this is an event that gets some focus on all levels, we haven’t seen any real improvement. Our top runners have split high 48-low 49 for the last 25 years. You could say the same for the 200 – where so many seem stuck in the 22.1 to 22.3 level, so maybe the issue is there hasn’t been the necessary focus on strength-building because we HAVE seen some improvement in the 100 i.e. women in the 10.7’s, more in the 10.8’s. Maybe with women like Sanya bringing some “glamour” to the event, younger talented sprinters might be motivated to put in the work necessary to run 48. I hope so… I’d love to hear your take.

    • CHill says:

      I think the Borlee’s can get down in that 44./44.2 range .. They are legit ..

      Santos has heart, but I wonder if he might be hampered by his size .. Sort of like Chris Brown ..

      James I’d like to see sprint a bit more .. His turnover is more like a Juantorena/Cruz type (800) than a sprinter .. I think it’s scary what he might be able to do with a sprinters turnover ..

      The women don’t have enough speed in the event in my opinion .. Alyson does which is why she runs the event so well when she runs it .. Richards Ross does which is why she had run 48 … But few other have that kind of speed .. Go back to the East Germans who made their quartermilers run all the sprints .. Or the US in ’84 when Brisco and Cheeseborough moved up .. Look at those athletes and you will see what sprinting does for quartermiler’s ..

      I think the same can be said for the 200, where I think they should move up and down to get better …

      • Waynebo says:

        I agree, but what I think we’re talking about here is sprinters who are willing to put in the necessary strength-building work. We see what that work from 2011 did for Allyson in 2012. She added strength to her speed and BAM! 21.69. We saw Michael Johnson become the most dominant sprinter of the 90’s when he moved up and was willing to do the work. At some point, Brisco & Cheeseborough were convinced it was worth the extra effort. The question is do the Kymberlyn Duncans & Curtis Mitchells (and the like) see any benefit in moving up and putting in the necessary work to add the strength to their speed?

        • CHill says:

          Oh, I agree completely .. It only works if they’re willing to put in the work … No doubt … I’m just saying that you need to have that kind of speed to work with … And we see too many without the speed ..

          The athletes are out there … Mitchell and Duncan were two great examples … I’ve said many times that Duncan can be the next Gwen Torrence … But what made Gwen was the work she put in …. And she became great at all three sprints … That’s what it takes …

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