How the Bookies See it
- Winner: Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) 1/1, Kirani James (GRN) 2/1, LaShawn Merritt (USA) 7/2 - Coral
- Top 3 Finish: Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) 1/8, Kirani James (GRN) 1/4, LaShawn Merritt (USA) 4/9 - Ladbrokes
First Round - Saturday 01:05 BST
Semi-Finals - Sunday 00:30 BST
Final - Monday 02:00 BST
Wayde van Niekerk is the reigning world 400m champion and the only person in history to break 10 seconds for 100m, 20 seconds for 200m and 44 seconds for 400m.
Personal Best - 43.48 secs, Season’s Best 44.11 secs
Kirani James earned Granada’s first-ever Olympic medal when he won gold in London at the age of 19, leading Michael Johnson to say that he could one day break his world record.
Personal Best - 43.74 secs, Season’s Best 44.08 secs
LaShawn Merritt won the Olympic 400m title in 2008 and has the best time this year of the three main contenders, having clocked 43.97 at the US trials.
Personal Best - 43.65 secs, Season’s Best 43.97 secs
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, Qatari teenager Abdalelah Haroun and Dominican youngster Luguelin Santos are among the other medal hopefuls, while a final place would be a great achievement for Team GB’s Matthew Hudson-Smith. The 22-year-old won the British trials in impressive fashion and has a personal best of 44.75, but will almost certainly have to better that to reach the final.
Not surprisingly for someone who has admitted that he is sick after nearly every 400m race, Van Niekerk can look like he has nothing left in the tank when he crosses the line. The South African’s main challenge will be putting together back-to-back performances through the rounds and then still having enough for the final. His 100m and 200m times show that he certainly has the raw speed, and he is the man to beat after winning at last year’s world championships and working hard on his endurance.
James has not quite kicked on as many would have expected since winning gold at London 2012, but this year he is unbeaten and seems to be peaking at just the right time. He may not have gone under 44 seconds yet in 2016 but he and his coach have taken on board the technical suggestions that Michael Johnson thinks are required for James to break his world record of 43.18, and in a high-class field there are several runners who could go close to setting a new record.
Merritt also has his eyes on the world record, although he has hinted that it is more of a long-term goal than a specific target for these games. He is back to his best following injury and the chances are there will not be much between the top three, in what should be one of the most exciting events of Rio 2016.
- Sports.net’s top tips: A new world record to be set in the 400m
- Wayde van Niekerk to win the 400m - Evens at Paddy Power
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.
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