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

Doha Will Be Remembered for the Four

Sep 3rd, 2019
9:04 am PST

World Championships are the highlight of the sport. They showcase the best that track and field has to offer. During each one, the absolute best of the best rises to the top to create the meet’s most lasting memories.

The inaugural championships in 1983 was the debut of Carl Lewis to the world. The followup in ’87 was the debut of Been Johnson. Ninety one was the most epic long jump competition in history and the fall of the world record.

So what will Doha be remembered for? What event(s) and competitor(s) will capture the crowd and our imaginations? After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion, that this will be the year of everything 400. We are going to see stunning races over one lap. Open. Hurdles. Relays. The 400 is going to feature as never before. Consider.

 

Men’s 400

Michael Norman has been on a two year tear. 43.60 in 2018 to set a new collegiate record. Second fastest relay split ever of 43.05. Anchor on a collegiate record 4×5. He opened up at 43.45 this year fueling anticipation of a showdown with Wayde van Niekerk. But WVN is having trouble recovering from injury, temporarily making it look like he’d have no peer as he destroyed everyone heading into Iowa. Then he lost at Trials although it took a slight injury and Feed Kerley setting a PR 43.65 to do it. So now he’s got a new foe as he and Feed will go at it in Doha. As Kerley will be looking to prove his win was NOT a fluke. Norman looking to reassert his supremacy. And many believing that the WR in this event is in danger! Get your popcorn here, Fred and Michael gonna race!

 

Women’s 400

Meanwhile on the distaff side, breaking the 49sec barrier had become so rare that many couldn’t remember seeing it happen back in 2009. Then out of the blue last year, Shaunae Miller Uibo ran 48.97 to slip under what had become a magical barrier. While Salwa Eid Naser chased her to the line in 49.08. Suddenly the world had two super quarter milers and the countdown to Worlds began. Except one more surprise showed up this year as Aminatou Seyni nearly upset Nasser with a 49.19 bomb of her own. Now the women’s 400 looks like it’s been transported back to the 90’s – maybe even the 80’s. As Miller Uibo, Nasser, and Seyni prepare to enter Doha stadium! The greatest collection of 400 meter talent in some two decades. Something special is about to happen.

 

Men’s 400H

Speaking of a special collection of talent. Behold the coming attack on one of the sports’ most venerable world records. Kevin Youngs’s stunning 46.78 record from the 1992 Olympics! Running “at home” will be =# 3 all time Abderrahmane Samba (46.98). Joined by =# 3 all time Rai Benjamin (46.98), and #2 all time Karsten Warholm the European record holder at 46.92! Together they are the fastest collection of hurdlers to ever race against each other! This is the hurdling equivalent of the 100 meters in Seoul 1988! Which means the potential for an epic contest resulting in a new WR. At least that’s what most track aficionados are anticipating.

 

Women’s 400H

While the world has spent the last year waiting for the men to break their record, the women took matters into their own hands. At the US Trials, Dalilah Muhammad screamed to a WR 52.20 with Sydney McLaughlin in hot pursuit at 52.88. As my father used to say, it was all over but the shouting. Sydney was the world leader as the race began, but waited too late to start her “kick” in Iowa. She returned to defeat Muhammad in Paris with 52.85. We’ll get to see them one more time in Doha when she and Dalilah line up for round 4! As easily as both women have seemingly run this year they could threaten the 52 second barrier. Just getting that much closer would be astonishing. Note, that this is the first time that the US has held both records since Kevin Young and Kim Batten held the records between 1992 and 2003. Now we have the potential to have two WR setters in the same event, in the same meet. The last time that happened was in 1983 when Calvin Smith (9.93) and Evelyn Ashford (10.79) set dual 100 meter records at the US Sports Festival.

 

Men’s 4×1 Relay

The last time the US won a major 4×1 was 2007. It’s been a long drought! Since then, we’ve been snake bit every way imaginable including 2017 when even with Bolt falling to the ground on anchor, Great Britain edged us out. This year, however, we head to Worlds with the three fastest men on the planet – including the world’s fastest starter (Coleman) and the world’s fastest finisher (Lyles). Throw in the most experienced second leg on the planet (Gatlin) and one wonders if we can screw this one up?

 

Women’s 4×1 Relay

This had been the US v Jamaica for the better part of a decade. Not sure the US is ready to hold up our end of the deal. As a matter of fact is beginning to look like perhaps Germany is entering the fray as a legitimate contender. Jamaica may or may not be ready as they have the two fastest women in the world this year in Elaine Thompson and Shelley Ann. The question is who they’ll pair with them. Bottom line, this event WILL generate excitement. And that is why we’ll all be glued to the screen.

 

Women’s 4×4 Relay

This event has been dominated by the US for some time. Primarily on the legs of some great 400 runners. This year’s 400 crop is not at that level, but the question on the minds of many is: can we load up on hurdlers – because we have those in abundance! If they aren’t too tired, I can see a 400 hurdle led squad running 3:16/3:17. Jamaica might get close. But what I’m really looking forward to are some individual splits from the likes of Miler Uibo, Naser.

 

Men’s 4×4 Relay

We’ve not seen a blazing (2:56 or faster) relay in some time. And with good reason, because you need a sub 45 lead off followed up by some very fast 43 second legs. By fast we’re talking 43.2 not 43.8! Can the US do this? I’m not so sure to be honest. Yes, Norman (43.45) and Kerley (43.64) have run fast open 4’s. We’ll have to see what their companions being to the table. I do know that Britain, Jamaica, Botswana, the Bahamas, and frankly anyone stepping on the track will be looking for the upset. Because everyone wants to take us down! And that will make things very exciting.

 

Bottom line is this, one lap around the track can be extraordinarily exciting. And in 2019 it seems like every event covering a single lap is full of talented athletes. THAT is going to be the legaDoha Will Be Remembered for the Four

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