TRACK STATS

, 15 Aug 2016

Pierre-Jean Vazel breaks down the South African's race in Rio.

, 14 Aug 2016

Try as they might to stop him, Mo reigns supreme in the Rio 10,000m final.

, 20 Aug 2016

Lalova may have finished last in the women's 200m final, but did manage the fast reaction time of any sprinter in any final.

, 27 Aug 2015

See how the South African's world championship run in Beijing compares to Johnson's world record.

, 14 Oct 2016

One of Britain's finest athletes has hung up her spikes.

, 12 Apr 2017

Eight fantasy teams do battle in our latest chart.

, 21 Aug 2016

Semenya proved her total dominance over the field in Rio—and she could still go faster.

, 4 May 2017

Will Dibaba's debut 800m in Doha push Semenya to a new level?

, 24 Mar 2017

Most indoor performers will improve outdoors, but it might be the slowest 400m runners who have the most to gain.

, 18 Mar 2017

The Rio silver medalist sends a message to his rivals, but can he deliver when it matters?

, 4 May 2017

Will Dibaba's debut 800m in Doha push Semenya to a new level?

, 3 May 2017

If you want the glory of a fast time, don't go on the first leg.

, 12 Apr 2017

Eight fantasy teams do battle in our latest chart.

Rio 2016 charts sprints Diamond League splits Beijing 2015 400m sponsors world records prize money relays heptathlon indoors 800m decathlon trends rankings Dibaba field nations long distances steeplechase

Is the 400m finally catching up?

Three men under 44 seconds in a single race. It's about time.
26 Aug 2015

Michael Johnson asked Ato Boldon to run down and “check the clock” after some sizzling 400m heats, which had two men go under 44 seconds. We don’t blame him, sub-44s don’t come around too often—except for this season. 2015 hasn’t ended but it is already the fastest ever when you look at the average times of the top ten, and four new athletes have gone sub-44 seconds (Van Niekerk, Makwala, Masrahi and McDonald), with James and Merritt still performing at that level.

Average time of the top 10 athletes in each season

The USA, the country that has been so dominant, however, has all their quarter mile hopes on one athlete: Merritt. For two consecutive World Championships the US has only had one athlete in the final and this year just one athlete in the top 10 (Merritt on all counts). This century, US athletes have, on average, taken four out of the top 10 athlete places in the world rankings, even taking seven in 2004. They have been ever-present in World Championship finals, even taking a clean sweep of the medals in Osaka, 2007. It seems strange that the 400m superpower is such a minor presence when the event heats up.

And perhaps that’s it: Nellum’s 44.77 in the semis would have arguably got him into every other World Championships final in the last 15 years. Merritt, one of the greatest quarter milers, ran a personal best—and didn’t win.

The USA will be back, but maybe global competition is what the event needed. As much as we can rejoice in these performances, they are long overdue. Lee Evans and Larry James ran the first sub-44 times at the Mexico Olympics (43.86 and 43.97 respectively, at altitude). Since then, another 12 athletes have done the same. That’s 0.2 a year.
Tommie Smith broke the 20 second barrier for the 200m in the Olympics. Since then, another 53 men have gone under it. That’s 1.15 men a year. More recently the 200m has progressed significantly compared to the 400m. Here is the percentage improvement in the two events across two Olympic cycles (downwards trend = improvement; upwards = regression).

% differences over an Olympic cycle

The Jamaicans led the surge here and the Americans responded. What is exciting for the 400m—other than the times—is that there were eight different nations in the final in Beijing, representing Africa, North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. This can only be good for the event and the sport, which considers itself global. Let’s hope they can make up for lost time.

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Longest-lasting world records

Diamond League Prize Money 2016

Rio 2016: event profiles

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, 3 May 2017

What do 400m relay splits really mean?

If you want the glory of a fast time, don't go on the first leg.

, 12 Apr 2017

Men’s all-time fantasy DMR

Eight fantasy teams do battle in our latest chart.

, 24 Mar 2017

How much will a quarter miler improve outdoors?

Most indoor performers will improve outdoors, but it might be the slowest 400m runners who have the most to gain.

, 13 Mar 2017

Inside and out: 60m specialists

Can the men’s 60m specialists make the transition outdoors?

, 15 Aug 2016

How van Niekerk broke the 400m world record

Pierre-Jean Vazel breaks down the South African's race in Rio.

, 28 Jul 2016

Can Merritt do the double in Rio?

We look at the challenges ahead for the 200m and 400m world leader.