Why Did Kirani James Lose?

If you saw the race, you probably had your jaw wide open in disbelief, Kirani James finishing 7th in 44.99!

Mine was too, until I checked their splits.

I had LaShawn Merritt split the first 200m in 21.2 when he normally goes out in 21.5 or slightly higer. 

21.2 is fine when your PB for 200 is 19.98. Kirani James 200m PB is 20.41.

With Kirani James one lane behind Merritt, he was keying off him, but I’ll bet he didn’t expect the pace to go that fast.

One has to look back at Innocent Egbunike “pulling” Butch Reynolds to a World Record (back then it was 43.29) with a suicidal opening fast 200m.

So I think Kirani just ran out of gas the last 60 meters because he ran that first 200-250m too hard.  He’s human, these things happen.

LaShawn Merritt 43.74

Secrets to 400m Success

Running a successful 400m depends on several factors, most notably, (1) speed reserve, (2) good lactate tolerance, and (3) running your 200m splits with the differential that is best for your body. 

I’ve covered the importance of speed reserve in several articles.

In most cases, you run your first 200m one full second slower than your 200m season best (not personal best).  LaShawn Merritt usually runs it 1.5 seconds slower, but today he ran that first leg less than one second slower than his 200m best.  He may have taken a gamble, and possibly dying on the homestretch, but his training with coach Loren Seagrave proved otherwise.  He knew his splits. He knew what he was capable of.  And just executed.

The IAAF installed RFID chips in the bibs, and set up 4 sensors at each 100m mark, so hopefully we will get the IAAF official splits.

Here is the race on YouTube:

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee

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  • I have 2 thoughts :

    1) how can James commit such a mistake at that level.

    2) Merritt run faster with a smaller penis.

  • I was amazed at Merritt’s form and efficiency. That was by far the best race I have seen him run. He wasted no extra energy, while James was flailing all over the place.

  • Yes i think same theory that Jimson.
    Merrit was very fast at 200 and perhaps Kirani tried to be near in that part, probably super fast for him, and so in the final metres Kirani was “dead”

    But i dont know, really it was a big mistake in tactics of Kirani, he should control those things….

    • Guys, nice theories makes perfect sense except for one fact… not only did Kirani fade…but he faded “dramatically”. After looking into this and making some calls i found out some thing.

      Kirani was running with an upset stomach but decided to compete still.
      Kirani’s nature does not allow him to make excuses. He will try his best every time. I do belive that had kirani been healthy, the race would have been different.

      He may not have won (due to the other factors that you guys pointed out) but would not have faded do drastically.

  • I havent been a big fan of Merritt since he tested positive but he did his time (well most of his suspension at least), looked awesome and ran a great race. He deserved the win.

    When I first saw the results of this race online I figured James pulled/tweaked something with 50m or so to go but when I saw the video my jaw literally dropped just like Jimson said. Yes he probably came out to hard but with him being so young he has many chances to both improve on his 200m and his 400m tactics. I wish him the very best, he’s still something remarkable.

    100m splits comes from trackandfieldnews.com – I hope this is not an issue posting it Jimson.

    LaShawn Merritt (11.1, 10.1 [21.2], 10.6 [31.8], 11.9) (21.2/22.5)
    Tony McQuay (11.1, 10.6 [21.7], 11.1 [32.7], 11.7) (21.7/22.7)
    Luguelin Santos (11.6, 10.4 [22.0], 10.7 [32.7], 11.8) (22.0/22.5)Jonathan Borlée (11.1, 10.3 [21.4], 11.0 [32.4], 12.1) (21.4/23.1)
    Pavel Maslák (11.2, 10.6 [21.8], 11.1 [32.9], 12.0) (21.8/23.1)
    Kirani James (11.1, 10.2 [21.3], 10.6 [31.9], 13.1) (21.3/23.7)
    Yousef Ahmed Masrahi (11.4, 10.4 [21.8], 10.9 [32.7], 12.3)
    Anderson Henriques (11.2, 10.3 [21.5], 11.2 [32.7], 12.3) (21.5/23.5)

  • Though sometimes difficult to do, 50m splits would’ve certainly provided more info to the discussion IMO. A lot of things went on in that race in each of those segments that are basically averaged out in the longer split data.