Steven Gardiner captures silver in a strong performance

By Drew Farmer for Bahamas Athletics

Wayde van Niekerk captured gold in the men's 400m as the South African attempts to complete a 200/400 double at this year's World Championships. The 25-year-old sprinted to glory as he clocked a time of 43.98. His win continues to prove he is the most exciting runner in track and field now that Usain Bolt and Mo Farah are calling time on their respective careers.

While Van Niekerk claimed gold for the second straight World Championships in the 400m, it was Steven Gardiner's silver medal performance that really turned heads. The Bahamian ran the 400m race in 44.41 as he sprinted to the first individual medal of his career.

Gardiner's strong final's performance continued a brilliant week in London as the Bahamian topped the semifinals on August 6th as the number one qualifier. The sprinter set a new personal best in the semifinals, producing a dynamic 43.89 time. Gardiner's semifinal finish was sure to concern Van Niekerk as the finals dawned.

Van Niekerk's strong start out of the blocks in the final helped him to outrun Gardiner, however. The South African had a reaction time of 0.157, while Gardiner's reaction time of 0.188 - the second highest of the race – slowed him down. Gardiner was followed over the finish line by Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun, who finished with a time of 44.48, a season best. Amazingly, the final's pace was slower than Gardiner's sizzling speed in the semifinal. Whether it was nerves, fatigue or Van Niekerk's experience that shown through, the final was just a step slower.

Perhaps the biggest talking point of the 400m final was the omission of Botswana's Isaac Makwala. The Botswanan was tipped to be one of the top three finishers in the final but he wasn't allowed to race by the IAAF due to having the norovirus earlier in the competition. The controversy surrounding his omission was major news before and after the final, with post-race explanations over his banning from the race being unclear.

Although Van Niekerk took gold in the competition, Gardiner can be seen as the real winner in Tuesday night's final. A relative unknown when the World Championships began, Gardiner shocked many with his two performances in the 400m.

"The final, I got a decent run on the backstretch," Gardiner said following the 400m race. "I just didn't know I had it in me but I had to fight for it.”

"I got the silver, and I'm thankful to God, my coach, my family and friends for supporting me so much.”

"I appreciate the silver medal."

Gardiner's sensational run in the final allowed The Bahamas to capture its first medal of World Championships. The Abacos, Bahamas born runner not only impressed spectators in London's Olympic Stadium but fans back home were also ecstatic about his performance.

The World Championships haven't been kind to 400m runners from The Bahamas. Gardiner was the first men's Bahamian since Chris Brown to qualify for the 400m final. Brown finished fourth in Osaka, Japan in 2007.

"I'd like to thank everyone for supporting me," Gardiner said. "It has been awesome, all the support I've had during the World Championships; it all paid off."

Gardiner's hard work did pay off at this year's World Championships but his competition is not over just yet. The Bahamas hope to have Gardiner ready to run in the 4x400m relay next. Gardiner will have the heats starting on Saturday and the final – if The Bahamas qualifies - taking place on Sunday.

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