After some pedestrian heat times yesterday, the tempo increased sharply in the semifinal round of the men’s 400 hurdles.
James Carter (USA) started the fast running in the first section, with a season-best 47.78, the day’s quickest. Twice an Olympic fourth placer, Carter had watched Dai Tamesue (JPN) and Felix Sánchez (DOM) set the early pace before he started his move in the final curve.
Bayano Kamani (PAN) actually had the advantage off the eighth hurdle, but Carter charged forward to clip Kamani, as the latter’s 47.84 established a new Central American and Caribbean record.
Still noticeably bothered by a chronic foot problem, defending champion Sánchez stayed close enough to get one of the two time qualifying spots with 48.24, as did Tamesue at 48.46.
Year leader Kerron Clement (USA) was matched with Athens silver medallist Danny McFarlane (JAM) in the second heat, and the experienced Jamaican set an extremely fast pace from his outside position. McFarlane always held the advantage, but he landed off-balance after hurdle eight, which caused him to knock over the ninth hurdle.
This allowed young L.J. van Zyl (RSA) and Clement the opening they needed to take the important first two places in 48.16 and 48.49, respectively. For van Zyl, it was an equaling of the PB he had established in his win two months ago in Athens. McFarlane meanwhile never recovered and finished in a non-qualifying fifth at 49.41.
The third heat allowed Bershawn Jackson (USA) to exhibit a multitude of gears, as he shot to an early lead, and then backed off to let Periklís Iakovákis (GRE) and Naman Keïta (FRA) move to the front. Off the final curve, Jackson then accelerated strongly and won in 48.19, with Keïta second in 48.60, just barely holding off Kemel Thompson (JAM) with 48.64. The Greek hurdler, who was the Paris bronze medallist, faded badly in the stretch, being pipped at the finish by Hadi Al-Somaily (KSA), 49.09 to 49.28.
The Final takes place on Tuesday evening.