Since the beginning of the modern games in 1896, the 400-meter dash has been a feature of the Olympic Games. One lap around a modern track is around one-fourth of a mile away. The 400-meter run is the longest track and field event, but it is still categorized as a sprint.
Runners competing in the 400-meter dash are staggered in lanes and must stay in the same lane throughout the race.
Here are the 10 fastest 400-meter dash times ever.
10. Champion Allison
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Champion Allison is an American athlete specializing in the 400 meters and competes for the Florida Gators in NCAA competition.
Allison finished second in the 400-meter race at the 2022 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in a time of 43.70 seconds, which ranked as the tenth-fastest time ever recorded.
9. LaShawn Merritt
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LaShawn Merritt’s personal best time of 43.65 seconds places him eighth among all-time leaders and makes him a former Olympic champion over the distance. At the 2004 World Junior Athletics Championships, he won the gold medal in the 400 meters and established two junior world records in the relays.
He was a successful young athlete. At the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships, he joined the American 4400-meter relay team and contributed to the team’s victory in the competition.
By taking home a silver medal in the 400 m at the 2007 World Championships, he made a name for himself personally.
8. Fredrick Lee Kerley
photo source: telegraph.co.uk
Fredrick Lee Kerley has won numerous medals at the World Championships in the 400-meter run and the 4×400-meter relay, including a gold medal in 2019 and a bronze for the individual. In addition, Kerley won 100 million gold in the 2022 competition.
Kerley is the eighth-fastest man in history with a 400-meter personal best time of 43.64 seconds. During the pandemic, Kerley focused on the 100-meter event during the Olympic cycle to improve his base speed in anticipation of a future effort at the sub-43 400 m.
His decision to run downhill paid off as he won the silver medal in the 100 m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His best time in the straightaway sprint is 9.76, making him the sixth fastest man in history.
7. Quincy Watts
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Quincy Watts won the gold medal in the Olympic 400 m in 1992, his most prosperous year. He twice beat Lee Evans’ 43.86-second Olympic record, achieved at altitude during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, by clocking 43.71 in his semifinal and 43.50 in the final.
He ran the second leg of the 4 400 m relay team in 43.10, shattering the previous world record in a time of 2:55.74.
6. Steven Gardiner
photo source: watchathletics.com
Steven Gardiner played the sport when he was a teenager. He participated in the 400 m race at the national championships in 2013. At the 2014 CARIFTA Games, he competed in three events, finishing fourth in the solo 200 m while winning silver in the 4 100 m relay and bronze in the 4 400 m relay.
He became one of the best young athletes in the Bahamas with a victory at the Bahamian junior championships in June of that year. 2014 World Junior Athletics Championships results included a 200 m semifinal run and a sixth-place finish in the 4×400 m.
5. Michael Norman
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At 44.52 seconds, Michael Norman now holds the world record for the indoor 400 meters. His 43.45 outdoor time from the 2019 Mt. SAC Relays is tied for #4 all-time. He won the 4×100-meter relay and the 200-meter world junior titles in 2016. He won both the 400-meter and 4×400-meter relay world titles in 2022.
He ultimately came in fifth place and was not chosen for the Olympic team. But later that summer, he won two gold medals at the World Junior Championships, capped by a championship-record 200-meter time of 20.17.
Did You Know:
Michael Norman originally came to the world’s attention as a high school senior when he outlasted current USA champion Justin Gatlin in a 200-meter semifinal heat at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
4. Jeremy Wariner
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Jeremy Wariner has won six World Championships and four Olympic medals (three gold, one silver). With a personal best time of 43.45 seconds, he is the fourth-fastest racer in the 400 m competition’s history.
At his first Olympics in Athens in 2004, he won the 400 m and the 4 x 400 m relay gold medals. He was an excellent undergraduate athlete at Baylor University. He then won two gold medals in the same events at the 2005 World Championships.
3. Butch Reynolds
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Butch Reynolds’s best time of 43.29 seconds, which he achieved in 1988, allowed him to hold the event’s world record for 11 years. He won a gold medal in the relay that year and the silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics (behind Steve Lewis).
The United States Supreme Court found in Reynolds’ favor because of what appears to be a procedural error in the IAAF’s drug testing program, which had falsely implicated him and given him a two-year drug use ban. Reynolds was given a $27.3 million judgment for false accusation damages, but he never got a dime.
2. Michael Johnson
photo source: s-nbcnews.com
American sprinter Michael Duane Johnson is now retired after competing in eight World Championships and winning four Olympic gold medals. In addition to the record for the 400-meter indoor race, he once held the 200- and the 400-meter world and Olympic records.
Michael Johnson bucked common thinking that a high knee lift is required for maximum speed with his unusually stiff upright running stance and relatively short stride. As a result, Johnson currently owns 13 of the top 100 200-meter times and 27 of the top 100 400-meter times as of 2012.
He currently owns 14 of the top 25 400-meter times out of those. In addition, he completed 400 meters in under 44 seconds, 22 times more than any other athlete has ever done.
1. Wayde Van Niekerk
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The sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk from South Africa competes in the 200 and 400 meters in track and field. He currently holds the world and Olympic records for the 400 meters after breaking them during the Olympic finals. Additionally, he has the fastest time ever in the 300 meters.
In addition to winning silver in the 4×400-meter relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade, Van Niekerk won silver in the 400-meter event in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Did You Know:
Wayde Van Niekerk competed for South Africa at the athletics world championships in 2013 and 2015. He won the 400-meter gold medal in the 2015 World Championships. Two years later, in London, where he also won the silver medal in the 200-meter event, he defended his title.