06 MAR 2004 General News

Men 400m Semi-Finals

With less than five hours between the semis and the finals, experience will play a key role in tonight's final of the men's 400 metres.

26-year-old Gary Kikaya of the Democratic Republic of Congo went out strong in the first semi, making up the stagger less than 150 metres into the race.  But Jamaican Davian Clarke, who won races in Erfurt, Stuttgart and Stockholm this winter, took over off the final turn to win in 46.34 to Kikaya's 46.46. Unheralded American Joe Mendel, just one one-hundredth from his personal best, was third in 46.56, holding off Spain's 2002 European silver medallist David Canal (46.56) to reach his first international final less than a week after making his first national team.

Alleyne Francique took control of the second semi after powering to the lead just past the bell, and held on to win in 46.32, the fastest of the competition.  As the chase pack reached the homestretch, it was readily apparent that the battle for the two remaining spots would be fierce.  Tunisian record holder Sofiane Labidi responded best to claim second position in 46.61. It took several minutes to determine that US champion Milton Campbell, edged Bahamian Christopher Brown, 46.67 to 46.68, for the final slot. Veteran Greg Haughton of Jamaica faded in the stretch, finishing fifth in 46.81.