US 400m sprinter Fred Kerley in London (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Doha, Qatar

Preview: men's 400m - IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

In the absence of defending champion Wayde Van Niekerk, expect a new star to emerge in one of the most globally exciting events in 2019.

Leading the way are US duo Michael Norman and Fred Kerley – two of the world’s top seven one-lap exponents in history – who could serve up one of the best head-to-head battles of the championships.

Norman, the 2016 world U20 200m champion, produced a dazzling 43.45 clocking in Torrance in April to catapult himself to joint fourth on the world all-time standings.

Since then the 21-year-old has continued to impress. Victories at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Stockholm and Stanford were followed by a 0.20 triumph over Kerley at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels in a slick 44.26.

However, his one loss of the season was inflicted by Kerley as the more senior athlete clinched a stunning victory by 0.15 at the US Championships in a lifetime best of 43.64.

Kerley opened his campaign with success over one lap at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai. The 24-year-old also has superior experience to Norman, having competed at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, placing seventh in the final.

Whatever the outcome, the showdown between the pair could provide one of the highlights of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

Also in the frame to compete on the US squad are Nathan Strother (44.29) and Vernon Norwood (44.40), who both set PBs at the US Championships in July, and are sure to be a factor.

Outside of the USA – who has claimed gold in this event at 10 of the previous 16 editions – the Caribbean is likely to present the strongest challenge led by world silver medallist Steven Gardiner. The 24-year-old Bahamian boasts a lifetime best of 43.87 and is unbeaten over 400m for the year, running an encouraging season’s best of 44.14 in his most recent outing in Chorzow, Poland.

Look out to for the 21-year-old Jamaican talent Akeem Bloomfield, who emerged on the global scene last year with a super-slick 43.94. Wins this year at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in London and Birmingham, as well as a third-place finish at the final in Brussels, adds more strength to the belief Bloomfield is a strong podium contender.

Another intriguing entrant is the 2011 world and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James. The Grenadian has been ravaged by injury over the past three seasons but a slick 44.47 clocking in early September in Andujar, Spain, in his one and only outing for the season suggests he could spring a surprise in Doha.

With a season's best of 44.52, 2016 Olympic fourth-place finisher Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago is also capable of a strong show.

Abderrahman Samba and Karsten Warholm may be better known for their world-class exploits in the 400m hurdles but the duo are also both entered for the 400m flat. Samba, the home athlete from Qatar, has a handy season’s best of 44.60. Meanwhile, Warholm is the reigning European indoor 400m champion, so the Norwegian has the tools to perform well. 

Samba’s compatriot and world bronze medallist Abdalelah Haroun is also entered, although his current form is unknown as his sole outing for the year was over 800m.

Kenyan 1:42.05 800m athlete Emmanuel Korir may be better known for accomplishments over two laps but he is also entered for the 400m on the back of a 44.55 clocking this year.

The Pan American Games gold and silver medallists, Anthony Zambrano of Colombia and Jamaica’s Demish Gaye, are also entered, as are European Team Championship winner Davide Re of Italy and Jamaica’s Nathon Allen, who finished fifth in the 2017 World Championship final.

Steve Landells for the IAAF