Ezekiel Nathaniel will have to run the race of his young but already exciting career as he takes on World record holder, Norway’s Karsten Warholm and USA’s Khallifah Rosser for the two automatic tickets on offer in the third semifinal heat of the men’s 400m hurdles at the ongoing World Athletics Championships.
Nathaniel, the reigning Nigerian record holder in the event will run from lane seven outside of both Warholm and Rosser who have been drawn in lane five and three respectively.
Warholm, who ran 45.94 seconds to win the Olympic 400m hurdles last year in Tokyo, Japan scorched to a 49.34 seconds personal season’s best in the first round to qualify for the semifinal and will stand as one of the favourites to go through to the final where he will be seeking to win a hat-trick of titles after emerging world champion in 2017 and 2019.
Also tipped to go through is the American who stormed to a new 47.65 seconds lifetime best at the US championships last month.
Nathaniel, who rose from a 51.90 seconds runner around this time last year to a 48 seconds runner will be banking on his geometrical rise in status and performance to stun the duo and grab one of the two automatuic tickets on offer.
Last May at the Big 12 Conference Championships, the 19 year old broke Henry Amike’s 35 year old Nigerian record with a stunning 48.42 seconds run, a performance he will need to either repeat or go faster than to guarantee a place in the final.
Only one Nigerian has ever run in the final of the event and this happened 35 years ago in Rome, Italy where Amike ran a new 48.50 seconds Nigerian record to qualify for the final of the event.
Nathaniel can emulate Amike’s feat and make history as the second Nigerian man to run in the final of the 400m hurdles.