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2017 Year In Review: McMaster fails to spark but joins elite 400 hurdlers
The 400-metre hurdles event has recently been searching for a consistent sub-48-second runner. In the preceding three years combined there was a grand total of two meetings – the 2015 World Championships and 2016 Olympics – producing times beginning in 47.
The only sub-48 in 2017 came in May, courtesy of British Virgin Islands athlete Kyron McMaster, who – by improving from 49.56 to 47.80, went from world U20 bronze medallist to overall world leader in the space of a year.
McMaster was disqualified in his heat for a lane violation at the World Championships but later proved his true mettle by winning the IAAF Diamond League final. That triumph was especially significant as he inflicted the only loss of the summer on world champion Karsten Warholm.
The Norwegian – just one year older than McMaster – had impressed all season with his energetic competitiveness. Not the smoothest technician, Warholm always went out at full blast, forcing his opponents to – with that one exception in Zurich – unsuccessfully play catch-up.
In London the other two medals went to athletes about 10 years his senior: Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello and Olympic champion Kerron Clement. Clement, who finished fourth at the World Championships 12 years ago, is remarkably still the top US athlete in this event.
Qatar’s Abderrahmane Samba could be someone for Warholm and McMaster to look out for in the future. A newcomer to the event – but also lacking previous big-time exposure – he demonstrated truly exciting potential when winning the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha by almost a second from Clement. Unfortunately, Samba then missed most of the season due to injury but managed to return in time to reach the final in London.