Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago competes in the Men's 400m Semi Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Gordon, who entered the race with a 45.02 personal best, was the surprise winner of the first of three semis, improving his career best all the way to 44.58 to finish well clear of runner-up Bahamian Demetrius Pinder (44.94) of The Bahamas.
"I did what my coach told me to, which was to finish strong," Gordon said. "I need to improve on my start and go harder on the back straight."
Finishing third and outdoing any realistic expectations that may have been put on his shoulders was 19-year-old Australian Steven Solomon who clocked a PB 44.97 to advance to the final as well.
The homestretch run of the second heat was a battle between World champion Kirani James of Grenada and Bahamian veteran Chris Brown, the oldest man in the field at 33. The long-striding James, still a teenager, held off Brown’s challenge 44.59 to 44.67, season’s best for both.
"I will get ready for the final," said James, who notched his 44.36 career best in Zurich as a follow-up to his World title last year. "It’s going to be hard. Everybody is hungry."
There was a scare however for Jonathan Borlee, who yesterday clocked a 44.43 Belgian national record. Failing to find his rhythm – or perhaps just tired from his effort of the day before – he was a distant third in 44.99 and had to wait until the results of the last race to see if he would move on based on time.
The third heat went to yet another teenager, World junior champion and New York Diamond League winner Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, who was the picture of confidence after crossing the line in 44.78. Kevin Borlee, Jonathan’s twin, was next in 44.84, with Bryshon Nellum of the U.S. third in 45.02. It wasn’t fast enough for the Californian, giving the last ticket to tomorrow’s final to Jonathan Borlee.
The biggest surprise of the round? For the first time in Olympic history, there will be no Americans contesting the final. Tony McQuay was a distant fourth in the second heat and yesterday defending champion LaShawn Merritt was forced out by injury.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF