09 April, 2020

Wanda Diamond League Best Of: 400m

  • © Philippe Fitte

As the world awaits the return of elite athletics, we're looking back at some of the finest performances in Diamond League history. This time around it's the 400m, with some jaw-dropping performances from the likes of Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Salwa Eid Naser, Wayde Van Nierkerk and Kirani James.

The Diamond League has seen some staggering performances over one lap in the last ten years, and we've picked out some of the best times ever clocked on the circuit.

In the women's event, one of the first highlights in the competition's history came from Sanya Richards Ross in Eugene back in 2012. A world-leading time of 49.39 on home soil saw the American emphatically hurl down the gauntlet that year, and though she did not end up claiming the Diamond Trophy, the performance did set the tone for her Olympic triumph in London later that summer. 

Four years later, Shaunae Miller-Uibo dethroned Richards-Ross as Olympic champion in Rio, and the Bahamian went on to dominate the Diamond League in the seasons that followed. 

In 2017, she joined a select group of athletes who have won two Diamond Trophies in a single season, following up her 200m triumph in Zurich with a superb 49.46 in Brussels to claim the 400m title. 

A nose behind her on that night was Bahraini rising star Salwa Eid Naser, who clocked in at 49.88. In the next two years, the one-lap showdowns between Naser and Miller-Uibo were to become some of the most eagerly awaited clashes in world athletics.

The pick of the bunch came in Monaco the following year, as the towering Miller-Uibo held off her shorter rival in a record-breaking slug for the line. The Bahamian smashed the Diamond League record with her 48.97, while Naser came in just over a tenth of a second behind her to better her own Asian record with 49.08. 

It was Naser who went on to claim the ultimate prize that year, getting her hands on the Diamond Trophy for the first time in Brussels with an imperious 49.33. 

Having taken on the role of challenger to Miller-Uibo, Naser soon found herself in pole position. By the time she reached Lausanne in 2019, the Bahraini remained unbeaten on the Diamond League circuit that year and had won nine of the previous ten Diamond League races since early 2018. 

On the shores of Lake Geneva, she almost met her match in the form of Niger's Aminatou Seyni. The 22-year-old challenger appeared to edge ahead of Naser on the home straight before the Bahraini rallied and edged victory in a nailbiting photo finish. Naser went on to defend her Diamond Trophy with ease in Zurich. 

Lausanne was also the scene of one of the finest men's 400m races in Diamond League history, when Kirani James and Lashawn Merritt went head to head there in 2014. 

A defining duel of the competition's early years, James and Merritt were pushing each other to staggering new heights and had both run sub-44 times in Eugene earlier that season. They did it again in Lausanne, with the young Grenadan setting a new Diamond League record of 43.74 to leave Merritt's 43.92 in the shade.

Merritt won the Diamond Trophy that season, but James would get his revenge the following year. After an early win in Shanghai, he clocked a world-leading 43.95 in Merritt's back yard in Eugene before claiming a second career Diamond Trophy later that year. 

James' Diamond League record lasted only three years, as the Grenadan ultimately made way for a new all-time great of the 400m in South Africa's Wayde Van Nierkerk.

Having smashed the world record in the Olympic final the year before, Van Niekerk dominated the Diamond League circuit in 2017, setting a new series best of 43.62 on a record-breaking night in Lausanne. A few weeks later, he also set a meeting record of 43.73 in Monaco.

After an eventful World Championships, Van Niekerk sat out the Diamond League Final, leaving Botswanan rival Isaac Makwala as the favourite for the title. Roared on by the Swiss crowd, Makwala cruised to an unchallenged victory in 43.95 - unchallenged partly because fellow contender Steven Gardiner had slipped at the start of the race.

Gardiner showed his class at the start of the following season with two meeting records in the first two meetings. The first of them - a Bahamian record 43.87 in Doha - remains the fourth fastest 400m ever run on the Diamond League circuit.