Machel Cedenio ran the race of his life to finish fourth, just missing out on a bronze medal, in the men’s 400 metres final at the Rio Olympics last night.

In the process, Cedenio erased Ian Morris’ 24-year old record with a smashing 44.01 performance, in a race which was won by South Africa’s Wayne van Niekerk in a new world record time of 43.03.

The previous record was held by American Michael Johnson, with a time of 43.18 seconds which was established in Sevilla, Spain, 1999.

Pre-race favourite and defending Olympic champion Kerani James finished second in 43.76, while American LaShawn Merritt grabbed the bronze, clocking 43.85, just ahead of Cedenio.

Cedenio, who ran from lane three, bettered Morris’ record of 44.21, which was established at the Barcelona Games in 1992. Morris just failed to hold off Kenyan Samson Kitur for the bronze medal.

The other finalists were Karabo Sibando of Botswana who finished fifth (44.25); sixth placed Ali Khamis of Bahrain (44.36), Grenada’s Bralon Taplin (44.45) and Mathew Hudson-Smith, GBR (44.61)

Cedenio put in his best work at the finish closing in on Merritt and James as he chased down the leaders in the straight but just could not pull out that little extra to get among the medals. Ironically, van Niekerk was the man whom Cedenio beat in the semifinal when he clocked 44.39 seconds.

“I ran my race and I won and now I will have to ensure that I do everything necessary to run my best race on Sunday. I know that there are probably going to be men faster than me in the finals but all I can do is qualify as I have done and give it my best,” Cedenio said after his semifinal finish on Saturday.

“I am feeling good, training well, loving the atmosphere, and just trying to enjoy my running while staying focused. I will just try to get some rest and leave everything else up to the day and just do my part, I am having fun and that helps and the rest of the team is fully supporting me,” he added.
Cedenio said he needed a time below 44 to medal. “I feel I have that in me and am looking forward to just going out tomorrow night and putting everything out. This rest will help.”

Cedenio was thankful for the support from the people of Trinidad and Tobago. “That really kept me more motivated to do well for my country. This is my first Olympics and I wanted to make it memorable,” he added

In the 100 metres final, Usain Bolt became the first person to win three straight Olympic 100-metres titles, blowing down the straightaway in 9.81 seconds for his seventh overall Olympic gold.

American Justin Gatlin, Bolt’s closest pursuer over the past four years, finished second—.08 seconds behind. Andre de Grasse of Canada won the bronze. Bolt came into the Olympics not having run a 100 since June 30, when he pulled out of the Jamaican national championships with a bad left hamstring.

The rehab began immediately, and on a muggy Sunday night in Rio, the shining star of track and field showed no signs of distress. After a typically clunky burst out of the starting block, he started pulling away from Gatlin with about 30 metres left. He’s not done. Qualifying for the men’s 200, his favourite race, starts tomorrow, with the relay on Friday.

How they finished in the 400

1. Wayde van Niekerk, South Africa (43.03 seconds WR)
2. Kirani James, Grenada (43.76)
3. LaShawn Merritt, USA (43.85)
4. Machel Cedenio, T&T (44.01)
5. Karabo Sibando, Botswana (44.25)
6. Ali Khamis, Bahrain (44.36)
7. Bralon Taplin, Grenada (44.45)
8. Mathew Hudson-Smith, GBR(44.61)