World Championship Bronze Medal - 400m - 55.30
The 400m was a big event for me since I felt it was my best shot for an individual medal. Already having a Bronze in the 200m took a little of the pressure off, but not much. I was definitely feeling it the night before, probably more nervous for this race than any. The night before was pretty restless.
Unlike my competitors (except for Gerhard from Germany), I had not held back in my prelims and run pretty strong (55.46, 56.00). I knew it would be Brazil and France most likely Silver and Gold and a fight for the Bronze with Germany.
Being my 6th race of the meet, I was pretty tired but feeling ready. I warmed up less than for the previous races and tried to save as much as possible. I knew that Brazil and France would finish strong so my tactic was to save as much as possible while getting around the track with as little effort as possible.
To my utter surprise,, they gave me lane 3... I was expecting 6. So, I had the competition in front of me with James to my left in 2. France was in 4, Brazil in 5. With all the pomp and circumstance we get in the World Final, music and introductions, I was really relaxed and casual when called to the blocks. "On your marks" ... "set" ... "click" - the gun misfired. I turned to James and said, I heard a click"... he says he did too, it wasn't just me. No one was charged and we got a green card. The second time, we were off.
I pretty much ignored what everyone was doing and tried to stay relaxed. I felt good at the 220m mark, not tired, the staggers were about even with France and Brazil just ahead. As per plan, we came around to the home stretch even, the three of us with Germany just behind and the rest of the field beginning to fall away. I hit my stride and for about 2 steps, I was leading the race. I motivated me to push hard, maybe a bit too soon, as France started pulling away at the 70m mark. I couldn't stay with him but I thought I might have a chance for silver. As we neared the finish, I ran out of gas, Brazil went by, and I felt Germany - as predicted - coming hard. It was a helpless feeling as I was starting to rig in the last 10m. As my stride shortened, I leaned hard at the finish, stumbled and went down... it wasn't pretty, but I got the Bronze ... by just 0.07 sec. France and Brazil won in times that exceeded my PR - 54.46, 55.04, and my time of 55.30 was almost exactly what I ran at Nationals (55.29) on a much faster track. So, I felt I brought my A-game. It was my 4th fastest time ever in the 400m.
What could I have done differently? Well, maybe not pushed it at the top of the stretch and waited til 40 or 50m out. Perhaps. Don't know, but as I have lost medals very closely previously, I was happy this came out as it did. Here is the sequence of photos coming down the final stretch.
As usual, the time leading up to the medal ceremony was nice. Getting to know the medalists and others backstage at the medal ceremonies. Gold medalist, Benoit, like me is a music professor (trumpet). We chatted about music in broken English. We both agreed at the similarities of the two disciplines, track and music. Benoit is a remarkable athlete, he won Bronze in the 800m in 2:04 and will be representing France in the 800m Masters Exhibition race at the Bejing World Championships next week.
The medal ceremony was nice, save for some bizarre woman who shoved my dad repeatedly, probably trying to get in position for a photo. The music and ritual of the medal ceremony is really pretty cool. The French did it well. The music, national anthems, introductions, handshakes and at the end, the customary signing of a giant card which all medalists sign.
I didn't really mind standing for the French National anthem a second time. It was a memorable day.