Michael Norman speeds to 400-meter world championships title

A year after his Olympic dreams faded along with his power in the final meters in Tokyo, Michael Norman held off the world’s top quarter-mile runners for the 400-meter gold medal at the World Athletics Championships on Friday night by leading a tight pack of challengers passed over the last 100 yards to the roar of a rough Hayward Field.

Norman, who was a record-breaking star at Vista Murrieta High and USC, finished in 44.29 seconds, filling the only significant gap on his young resume – a global championship win.

Kirani James took silver in 44.48 and Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith took bronze, while American champion Allison finished fourth.

Norman’s title continued the US men’s dominance in the sprints, coming one night after a medal win in the 200 and six days after another win in the 100.

Exuberant off the track, Norman was stoic at his introduction, raising his arms above his head in response to loud cheers, but with a stern expression on his face. But a step from the finish, he raised his arms again – this time allowing a wider smile.

In an on-track interview, he called his last three years a “challenging, challenging journey.”

Norman has been one of the world’s fastest 200m and 400m since he was a prep senior in 2016, but he has yet to turn the promise of his collegiate record into serious individual hardware at a World Championships or Olympics, the stages where the elite of the route is judged. In each case, he was able to identify a clear reason. However, that was not the case with his fifth place finish at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

His training in the months leading up to Tokyo had not gone well, as Norman and his father Michael were concerned from the first training session. It didn’t lighten the Olympic trick.

“A devastating moment for myself,” Norman said.

Everything about his training since then, he said in May, has been geared towards redeeming himself in Eugene in front of the first US audience to see an outdoor world championship. Norman ran to his father and coach Quincy Watts after the title.

Friday offered the unexpected. American Kara Winger, fifth in javelin and up to her final throw, uncorked a 210ft 1in throw that pushed her to silver. She covered her face with the knowledge that at the age of 36 she had won her first medal at a World Championship or Olympics. The Washington native began rhythmically cheering her name with a large group of supporters as she searched for a flag to carry across the track.

Even more amazing was that Allyson Felix’s retirement has been suspended for at least one more race. A week after winning a bronze medal in the 4×400 mixed relay in the final heat of her illustrious career, hinted at by US officials and Felix himself, the sprinter, who broke out of Los Angeles almost two decades earlier, becomes a Baptist in the 4×400 relay women’s run semifinals Saturday. US course officials had asked if she would run, an offer she could not refuse, Felix told the Associated Press.

The pivotal day for the United States brought no surprises in the 4×100-meter relay qualifying rounds. The US women reached Saturday’s final in 41.56 seconds – 0.43 seconds faster than second-fastest qualifier Great Britain – despite a two-handed baton pass from Jenna Prandini after her steamy stage three to anchor runner Twanisha Terry.

The US men, the Jekyll and Hyde of the short relay for two decades, will also enter their Saturday finals with the fastest qualifying time after the seamless first handover between Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles – two members of the 2019 US gold medal team – brought Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy-Williams in position to finish in a world-leading 37.87 seconds. There is no guarantee that this line-up will compete in Saturday’s finals, which the USA will go into as heavy favorites to win gold. Lyles’ stage on Friday was his fourth race in five days, but 24 hours after setting the American record in the 200m, he said with a big smile that he “woke up fine today”.

The Americans’ clean run was the result of confidence and practice at “relay camp,” Bracy-Williams said. Your preparation wasn’t limited to handovers. Amidst an interview, Lyles sang a bar from Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” — a title that felt appropriate given the US history of the event.

“I used to pray for times like this,” Lyles said, pointing to teammates who replied, “To rhyme like that, so I had to grind like that to shine like that!”

They will have their chance to shine on Saturday. Because Friday belonged to Norman.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/story/2022-07-22/michael-norman-wins-400-meter-world-title Michael Norman speeds to 400-meter world championships title

Emma Bowman

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