With a superb burst of speed in the final 40 metres of the race, Egor Kuznetsov became Russia’s first ever World Youth 400m Hurdles champion here in Lille setting a new World Youth leading time of 50.97 in the process.
Boasting confidence following his semi-final win in a personal best 51.57 South Africa’s Constant Pretorius shot out of the blocks from lane 6 to totally overshadow his competitors for the first three quarters of the race.
In fact, the strongly built South African held a strong lead up until he entered the final straight and that is when trouble began. Not only did he stutter dramatically approaching the final barrier which he also clipped but his opponents were now finally putting some effort into the race.
Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh running in a Saudi Arabia bright white vest who was most visible in the middle lane 5 and he seemed to be the stronger and fastest finish as he caught up with Pretorius. Suddenly, Pretorius was literally ate up by Japan’s Takahiro Matsumoto and Kenya’s Ken Kirui Tele as Saleh managed to hold off the challenge.
However, there would be nothing he could do to counter the devastating kick of Kuznetsov whose change of speed in the run-in secured his country’s second gold medal of the day and of the whole championships.
Saleh finished with a new personal best 51.14 for silver as the photo finish awarded the bronze medal to Matsumoto, also a new PB51.26 ahead of Tele (51.33PB).
Pretorious would eventually finish in fifth in a new personal best 51.34.
"I can't believe I won," said Kutznestov. "It's unreal, I'm very tired. I just want to eat something!"
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF