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Event Report - Men 400m Final

Wariner Breezes To Victory 
In a carbon copy of his Olympic victory Jeremy Wariner USA coasted round the Helsinki track in a consummate demonstration of classic quarter-miling. Silver went to compatriot Andrew Rock and bronze to Tyler Christopher CAN.

“I was concentrating on being first at 300 metres,” said Wariner, “and it went well. After I came off the last turn I just told myself, stay strong. Two gold medals in two years is nice. I had no pressure. I just ran my own race.”

In this post-Olympic year Wariner had come to Helsinki with a trio of defeats in his portfolio, two to Darrold Williamson USA and the third to Tim Benjamin GBR, both men in this final.  Maybe it had been the foul weather but the man from Baylor University had not looked so superior in qualifying. Was there going to be an upset?

Well, no. After a controlled 150 metres when he settled into his stride, Wariner moved up on Christopher, the man who looked most likely to challenge him. The Canadian was in the unfortunate situation of being just outside the American in lane four. He had talked a good race the day before when he said he was not here to make up the numbers, but win gold and he had looked sharp in the semis. On his outside he was not only holding Williamson, the American number two, but had already dispatched him. Only Wariner stood in his way.

But having the Olympic champion go past at 200 metres unsettled him and that is where he made his mistake. He tried to go with Wariner. The effort to get back on an even footing cost him dear. A man cannot be blamed for trying, but with hindsight it is clear Christopher sacrificed silver in his quest to match Wariner.

The American poured it on around the final bend, his silky stride eating up the track, arms pumping rhythmically. Christopher was trailing badly but as they hit the straight he made a huge effort to make inroads to the gap that was opening up inexorably. Christopher is renowned for his explosive last 100 metres and he made a clear effort to exploit it, but he had already played his card and there was nothing left but to dig in.

Meanwhile behind him Rock, who had started cautiously, was putting his game-plan into practice and made his final effort. Metres behind Christopher, Rock started to eat into the Canadian’s lead. Christopher was tying up, his head back, running on empty having used up all his energy on a futile chase. Slowly but surely silver disappeared as the number-three American hunted the Canadian down.

“I am very excited right now,” said Rock. “It was great to finish one-two for the USA. My goal for this year was to run a personal best, which I did by 0.3sec and also to medal here so I achieved all of those.”

For his part Christopher was satisfied with his night’s work. “I’m really happy,” he said. “But this was the fastest race I have ever been in. I even ran a national record.”