media_artricles :: 2016
Cedenio fourth in historic Olympic finalStephon Nicholas :: Newsday :: 14.08.2016
Trinidad and Tobago's 20-year-old Machel Cedenio ran the race of his life last night but just failed to medal in an all-time historic Olympic 400m final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 2014 World Junior champion placed fourth in a new national record time of 44.01 seconds, erasing compatriot Ian Morris' previous time of 44.21 seconds set in the 400m final at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
A clearly spent Cedenio collapsed after the race and had to leave on a wheelchair assisted by a Games official after leaving it all on the track minutes before.
In a stunning upset, South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk obliterated the field including heavy favourite and 2012 champ Kirani James of Grenada and his long-time nemesis LaShawn Merritt of the USA.
For much of the race, the battle for gold looked between James and Merritt and the pair was locked stride for stride going into the final 100m.
But running out of lane eight, Van Niekerk. the 2015 World champ, took control of the race and began separating himself from the duo.
It was as intimidating a run as ever seen before and as he crossed the finish line looking as comfortable as former Olympic 400 winner Michael Johnson did in the past.
The winning time emblazoned on the clock showed Van Niekerk had run faster than the man considered the greatest quarter-mile runner of all time.
The South African clocked a stupefying World and Olympic record time of 43.03 to prove his Beijing victory at the 'Worlds' last year was no fluke.
Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt, who was waiting for the 100m showdown minutes later, looked on in awe as did the rest of the world.
Many pundits have clamoured for Bolt to try the 400 to go for Johnson's 17-year record which many had considered unbreakable.
The dethroned Kirani James had to fight off Merritt to secure the silver in a very fast 43.76 seconds while Merritt took bronze in 43.85.
James in an interview after the race said he tried to "stay relaxed and composed" going into the final straight. "I tried to catch Wayde but that didn't work out," he admitted.
Cedenio, who started a bit slow, used his customary late kick to hold off the field and cross the line in a new personal best and Trinidad and Tobago record in his first Olympic final.
Alvin Daniel, who was a 4x400 relay finalist with Morris at the 1992 Olympics, was ecstatic yesterday after Cedenio's effort.
"Boy I think Cedenio's performance was excellent. When you have a man running 43.03 nothing to be ashamed about," he declared.
Asked if he expected a new national record, he said: "I think so. I have high hopes for that young fella. Once he stays focussed, I think he will be the next World and Olympic champion.
He is just 20, he has time on his side."