Time for the 400m to Get Back to Centre Stage
The 400-meter race has always been one of the most electrifying and captivating events in the sport of athletics. However, in recent years, the shine of this event has faded, and it hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves. Sanya Richards-Ross, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the legendary 400-meter runners, believes it is time for the event to get back to the centre stage and reclaim its glory.
Why the 400m is Special
The 400-meter race is unique in many ways. It is considered the perfect blend of speed and endurance, testing the athletes’ speed, strength, and stamina all at once. The athletes have to maintain their speed while also battling exhaustion and lactic acid buildup in their muscles in the final stretch. This makes for a thrilling finish, with athletes pushing themselves to their limits and often collapsing with exhaustion at the end of the race.
The 400m is also known for producing some of the greatest athletes in history. Michael Johnson, one of the most iconic athletes of all time, dominated the event in the 1990s, setting multiple world records and winning four Olympic golds. Other legends of the event include Lee Evans, Tommie Smith, Butch Reynolds, Cathy Freeman, and Marie-José Pérec, among others.
Recent Decline of the 400m
Despite its many attributes, the 400m race has been losing its popularity in recent years. Many factors have contributed to this decline, including the rise of shorter events like the 100m and 200m, which are more easily digestible for TV audiences and casual track fans.
Another issue is the lack of star power in the event in recent years. Usain Bolt, the biggest name in athletics, focused on shorter events throughout his career, and other athletes like Wayde van Niekerk and Kirani James, who lit up the event in the last decade, have struggled with injuries and form in recent years.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the athletics calendar and forced the cancellation of several major events, including the 2020 Olympic Games. This deprived the 400m of a global stage to showcase its talent and excitement.
Reviving the 400m
To bring the 400m back to the centre stage, Richards-Ross believes that the athletes, coaches, and administrators need to work together and promote the event more effectively. She suggests creating more events featuring the 400m and providing more incentives for athletes who excel in the event, such as increased prize money and media exposure.
Richards-Ross also believes that the athletes themselves need to take more ownership of the event and promote it on their social media channels and other platforms. By building their own brand and fan base, athletes can help increase the exposure and popularity of the event, which in turn can attract more sponsors and media attention.
Another way to revive the 400m is to showcase its unique qualities and personalities. Richards-Ross suggests highlighting the athletes’ stories and backgrounds, which can create emotional connections with fans and help build their loyalty to the sport.
The 400-meter race is one of the jewels in the crown of athletics, and it deserves to be back in the centre stage. By promoting the event effectively and showcasing its unique qualities and personalities, the 400m can regain its popularity and once again capture the imagination of fans worldwide.