Prior to the championships, a one-two for Botswana wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility, but their challenge started to peter away after the semifinals when 44.22 performer and world U20 leader Baboloki Thebe – who stopped the clock at 44.67 – was disqualified for a lane infringement.
The country’s title hopes still looked in good shape as his training partner Karabo Sibanda impressively won the first semifinal in a lifetime best of 45.15 to qualify as the fastest for the final with Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun (45.55) and Kenya’s Geoffrey Kiprotich (45.38) winning the other semifinals.
Sibanda was drawn one lane inside Haroun in the final and the Qatari began quickly as he tends to do. Sibanda kept pace with Haroun and was neck-and-neck with the 19-year-old heading into the home straight but then he began to toil.
“I went all out in the first 200m and in the last straight I felt dizzy. I couldn’t see anything in the last 50 metres,” said Sibanda, who faded back into third in 45.45.
Haroun also started fast – faster than he has ever done – but the world indoor silver medallist kept his form in the home straight to claim the title in a season’s best of 44.81.
“It’s the first time I started a race so fast. I almost killed myself in this race but now I’m very happy,” said Haroun.
US junior champion Will London ran the most even-paced race of the three medallists, picking off Sibanda in the closing metres to claim the silver medal in a lifetime best of 45.27.
Sibanda and Thebe will join forces in the relay later this week and the individual bronze medallist is rating his country's chances. “I think we might even get the gold,” he said. “But any medal is okay.”
Steven Mills for the IAAF