World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk, world champion Steven Gardiner and USA champion Michael Norman are set to give track and field fans an early preview of what could come in Tokyo when they line-up in the men’s 400m at Tuesday’s (6) 2021 Istvan Gyulai Memorial – World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series meeting in Szekesfehervar, Hungary.
All three sprinters will head into the Olympic Games later this summer with an equal chance of winning the gold medal which is why Tuesday’s clash in the Hungarian city is so stimulating.
After a disappointing World Championships performance at Doha 2019, Norman will be hoping to bounce back at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The American champion enters the meeting undefeated in finals this year and is the second-fastest 400m runner in the world this term.
The 23-year-old has a seasonal best of 44.07s, which is the fastest entry time among all the starters, but he will be well aware of the quality of his fellow rivals.
In the meantime, Van Niekerk is slowly rounding back into form after a slight setback with an injury and comes into the meeting in good form after producing two solid performances in the discipline.
The two-time world champion and Rio 2016 gold medal winner, concentrated on his speed work earlier in the year by running mostly the 200m before stepping into a pair of 400m races.
Van Niekerk has a season’s best of 44.56s, done in Madrid on June 19, and the South African followed that performance up with a 44.87s win in Lucerne, 10 days later.
Gardiner, meanwhile, is rounding into good form at the right time and improved his season’s best to 44.52s when winning at the Bahamian Championships at the end of last month. He comes in as the joint 8th fastest performer in the world this season and is primed to improve that mark in Szekesfehervar.
Michael Cherry, the runner-up at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a personal best of 44.35s, will also line-up in the field. He also has a strong time of 44.37s, achieved in tough conditions when finishing ahead of Gardiner in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 18.
USA’s Bryce Deadmon who owns a personal best of 44.44s and Jamaican national record holder Rusheen McDonald are included in the race as well.