Bralon Taplin was completely dominant in the first of two semi-finals on Friday night, the Grenadian powering through the first 200m and maintaining well thereafter to take victory in 45.38, the second fastest time in the world this year. Taplin himself is the only athlete to have gone faster in 2016, having run 45.20 in Texas back in January.
“Being a world leader this year I clearly have a big target on my back,” said Taplin, who is now the favourite for the final on Saturday night. “My plan for tonight is to eat, watch some TV, get massage and get good sleep.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore held on well to take second in 46.23, with Kenya’s Boniface Mweresa running a season’s best of 46.33 to take the third and the final qualification spot.
The second semi-final was expected to boil down to a head-to-head duel between reigning champion Pavel Maslak, of Czech Republic, and Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun, and that’s exactly what happened as the pair tussled for the lead approaching the bell. As so often is the case indoors, it was Maslak who utilised his speed best and got to the break in front.
Haroun attacked again off the final bend, but Maslak pulled out more on the final run to the line and edged the Qatari in what may prove a crucial photo finish, given the importance of lane draws indoors, with both recording 45.71 and only being seperated by 0.002.
"It was very, very hard," said Maslak. "Haroun is a very good athlete. Tomorrow will be a very hard fight."
Trinidad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon held on strongly to take third in 46.03 and secure his place in the final. "There's still work to do," he said afterwards.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF