Why did Kirani James fade so much in the last 100m? This was going to be one races to watch at the World Championships. The young up and coming 20 yo Kirani James versus 27 yo LaShawn Merritt. James was tipped to take out the race over Merritt but instead he finished 7th in 44.99 with Merritt running a PB in 43.74. So what happened?
The 400m is a very difficult race to execute correctly and I would suggest that on this occasion Merritt nailed it and James missed it. However there was probably a bit more going on than that. Merritt obviously got his peaking phase spot on as he ran a PB. You cant ask any more for your athlete. He has clearly been working on his speed and speed endurance as he went through the first 200m at his fastest split time and at a massive 94.25% of his best 200m time. He would normally go through the first 200m at about 93% of his best 200m time. This either says that he is running faster over 200m so technically he still may have run at 93% or that he has increased his speed endurance and was very confident that he could still finish strong. James race was a little different he faded with about 60m to go which could mean a couple of things. He got his taper very wrong and he was tired from the Golden League meets or he ran a to high % of his 200m time over the first 200m chasing Merritt and had nothing left to come home. He is only young and as his strength and speed increases he will only get better.
It does highlight just how hard the 400m is to prepare for and execute.