Michael Norman finally delivered on the big stage on Friday as he produced a commanding performance to win gold against a stacked field in the 400 metres final and continue the American gold rush on home soil.
Norman has had a succession of disappointments in recent seasons and was under massive pressure after coming into the race as the fastest in the world this year, but he held his form in a charge to the line to triumph in 44.29 seconds.
“I was extremely determined to win it for the fans in the stadium, you guys are the best,” said Norman.
Kirani James of Grenada took silver in 44.48 while Matthew Hudson-Smith, who has had a wretched time with injuries in recent years, collected bronze in 44.66 for Britain.
Only three men have broken 10 seconds for the 100m, 20 seconds for the 200m and 44 seconds for the 400m and two of them – Norman and South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk – were in Friday’s final.
Newly-crowned 100m champion Fred Kerley is the other.
World record holder Van Niekerk, short of racing after a series of injuries, was unable to threaten, finishing fifth, but there were plenty of others breathing down Norman’s neck.
After a stellar college career, the American was favourite ahead of the last World Championships but, hampered by a hamstring injury, did not make the final. Hoping to make amends at the Tokyo Olympics he finished fifth in the final.
He has been in great form this year and went sub-44 seconds twice on the same Hayward Field track in May and June, piling on the expectation.
There was little between the leading four men coming off the final bend but Norman had a metre on James and held it all the way home.
The silver gives James a neat collection of gold, silver and bronze from both the World Championships and the Olympics.
Long-striding Hudson-Smith, a former European junior champion, also maintained his form to hold off American Champion Allison for third.
Bahamas’ Miller-Uibo wins women’s 400m gold
Bahamian double Olympic gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo added another jewel to her crown by winning her first 400 metres title in the fastest time of the year.
The field never had a fighting chance as Miller-Uibo came charging down the back straight and had the lead coming out of the final turn before slowing through the finish.
She crossed the line in a blazing 49.11, nearly half a second clear of Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino, who passed Sada Williams of Barbados to take silver.
Resting flat on her back on the Hayward Field track, she breathlessly told the crowd in Eugene, Oregon, that the moment was “a blessing”.
“To get this one, I’m really happy,” she said. “It’s a very tough race to run ... I’m very happy with the performance.”
She had previously collected silver in Beijing and Doha and 200m bronze in London.
Mighty McLaughlin dominates 400m hurdles, breaks world record
A dominant Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record to win the women’s 400 metres hurdles final after the American powered home in 50.68 seconds.
The Olympic champion had the lead well before the back turn and finished several metres clear of silver medallist Femke Bol (52.27) of the Netherlands and American Dalilah Muhammad (53.13).
The 22-year-old slashed 0.73 seconds off her previous mark of 51.41 set at the same springy, speedy Hayward Field last month, becoming the first woman to run under 51 seconds in the event.
“It’s unreal,” she told a reporter on the track after the race, having collected her first individual World Championships title.
“I’m so thankful to (God), my coach, my team... it’s all of us.”
It was the sixth time in three years that the world record has been broken, after Russian Yulia Pechonkina’s mark had stood for 16 years.
Much of the hype heading into the final had focused on McLaughlin’s rivalry with 2019 champion Muhammad but the 32-year-old was well beaten.
It was the first world record broken at this year’s World Championships, the first on U.S. soil, and a much-needed boost for the American women, who have excelled in the field events but had been shut out on the track.
American trio face stiff Hodgkinson challenge in 800m final
The trio of athletes hoping to restore some American female pride on the home track advanced to the 800 metres final, with Olympic champion Athing Mu looking to be the one to beat.
While the U.S. men have been tearing up the track in the sprints, its women will not manage a single medal in 100, 200 or 400m for the first time since the Championships began in 1983.
Mu, Raevyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson will hope to break that trend in Sunday’s final. Mu, 20, looked like she was out for a Sunday jog despite logging the fastest time of the three heats - one minute, 58.12
Ethiopian Diribe Welteji ran a personal best 1:58.16 just behind her.
Hoping to challenge any thoughts of an American sweep will be Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson of Britain, who looked in total control of the second heat, comfortable despite a sharp time of 1:58.51.
Jamaica’s Natoya Goule chased her all the way home, her tiny frame strong enough to hold off Rogers, who still advanced as a fast loser.
“I felt good tonight and cannot wait for the final,” said Hodgkinson. “I think Athing is going to be strong, she is a good competitor but I don’t think that the gold medal is already on anyone’s neck.
“There is a good five of us battling for the medal. So it is going to be very stormy race.”
Kenya’s Mary Moraa took the first heat in 1:59.65 after leading from gun to tape, though Wilson was nicely on her shoulder after admitting she “fell asleep” in the first round of heats when she had to muster a late sprint after allowing a lead group to escape.
Defending champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda and Briton Jemma Reekie, fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, both failed to progress.
US gets baton home safely to reach men’s 4x100 relay final
The United States has a woeful recent record in the men’s 4x100 metres relay at the Worlds but its quartet got the job done in Friday’s heats despite the added pressure of running on the home track.
The crowd at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon cheered after each handover by the Americans, who since winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Games have suffered a series of disqualifications and disappointments at the World Championships and Olympics.
American teams have won only three world titles since 2001 and failed to top the podium at the Olympics since Sydney.
Christian Coleman got the Americans off to a speedy start before handing off to Noah Lyles, who showed little sign of fatigue after winning 200m gold on Thursday.
Elijah Hall’s handoff to Marvin Bracy was far from perfect but the 100m silver medallist powered through to the line to bring the Americans home in 37.87 seconds, ahead of Britain and Ghana.
Nigeria and Japan were disqualified from heat 1 due to violations.
In the other heat, Olympic gold medallist Andre De Grasse helped Canada advance to the final after it finished second to France, with South Africa finishing third.
Olympic champion Italy was without Tokyo gold medallist Marcell Jacobs due to injury and will miss Saturday’s final after finishing seventh in its heat.
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