Van Niekirk could top tight 400m field

August 05, 2016
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer South African Wayde van Niekerk training at the Usain Bolt Track at UWI Mona.
@Normal:Kirani James (left) and LaShawn Merritt
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Anneisha McLaughlin (left) hangs out with Sashalee Forbes in the international zone of the Athletes Village yesterday.

WITHOUT a doubt the men?s 400 metres in Rio will be the most difficult one to call.

Three outstanding athletes ? LaShawn Merritt of the United States, Kirani James of Grenada, and Wayde van Niekirk of South Africa will be in a dogfight in what is expected to be the race of the Olympics.

We could witness history as all three could go under Michael Johnson?s world record of 43.18 seconds, set in 1999.

All three have been dominant all year and following a classic at the World Championships in Beijing last year where the South African created history by giving his country its first gold medal in the event, another thriller is expected.

All three have won global titles. Merritt was Olympic champion in Beijing in 2008 while he was world champion in Berlin 2009 and in Moscow 2013.

James is the defending Olympic champion from London 2012. He won his first major title in Daegu the year before.

Of the three, the South African is the least decorated and following his only success a year ago in Beijing, he will want to add an Olympic title to his tally.

Both van Niekerk and James are unbeaten this season in the event.

The South African?s two fastest times so far are 44.11 and 44.12 seconds. James? two best are 44.08 seconds done early at the Drake Relays and 44.15 seconds. Both will want to remain unbeaten.

This one will definitely be hard to call and despite having the better of Merritt this season I do not see James beating him here.

It will be a tight finish between Merritt and van Niekirk, with the South African just getting a very, very slight edge with the world record in danger.

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