Bahamian Gardiner takes 400m gold; USA's Cherry, Norman miss podium

Posted at 4:38 AM, Aug 05, 2021

Reigning world champion Steven Gardiner captured 400m gold Thursday, winning the Bahamas its first individual men's Olympic medal on the track.

Gardiner was patient and surged through the homestretch to finish remarkably comfortable in 43.85. His runner-up in Doha, Colombian Anthony Zambrano, took silver in 44.08 to complete a match of their top-two world championships result at the Tokyo Games.

Grenada's Kirani James, the 2012 Olympic champion and silver medalist from Rio, earned bronze in 44.19 to give him an Olympic medal of every color. The 28-year-old was diagnosed in 2017 with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid, which perhaps makes this medal his most impressive yet.

The Americans – Michael Cherry and Michael Norman – finished off the podium in fourth and fifth, Cherry in a personal-best 44.21.

Norman led the field early with a blistering start out of lane eight, but by the 150-meter mark the others had caught up, and he was left behind on the homestretch.

This is only the second time the U.S. has failed to win a medal in the men's 400m in non-boycotted Games since 1924. The other instance was 2012 in an American-less final.

SEE MORE: Bahamas' Steven Gardiner beats loaded 400m semifinal field

Gardiner, who won silver at the 2017 World Championships, is originally from the Abaco Islands, the region hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. His family made it through alive, but both his father and grandmother’s homes were severely damaged. After the storm, Gardiner, who lives and trains in Florida, flew his family there.

Bahamas' other individual track medals:

– 2016: Shaunae Miller, Gold, Women's 400m
– 2004: Tonique Williams-Darling, Gold, Women's 400m
– 2004: Debbie Ferguson, Bronze, Women's 200m
– 2000: Pauline Davis-Thompson, Gold, Women's 200m