Michael Norman, world 400m favorite, fails to make final with injury

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Michael Norman, the world championships 400m favorite, was eliminated in Wednesday’s semifinals with an unspecified injury.

Norman was seventh and last in his semifinal in 45.94 seconds, way slower than the 43.45 he ran on April 20 to become the joint-fourth-fastest man in history.

Afterward, he told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN that an injury that nearly kept him out of July’s USATF Outdoor Championships had been nagging him leading up to worlds and in the semifinal.

“My body was telling me stuff, giving me signs,” Norman said, adding that he felt a “warning sign” in one of his legs during the semifinal before jogging to the finish line. “Trying to push myself to an area I’m not capable of running right now. Body’s telling me to slow down to keep something tragic from happening.”

In July, Norman said he didn’t practice the two weeks leading into nationals because of an unspecified strain. He said the last two weeks before worlds were very hard to cope with.

“I’m just very happy that I didn’t make a huge mistake,” he said.

Norman ends a season that was promising in the spring but stifled by injury in the summer and fall. He turned professional last summer, after his sophomore year at USC, and soon became the early Olympic 400m favorite with Rio gold medalist and world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk out injured.

In addition to that 43.45, Norman handed Noah Lyles his only 200m defeat in this Olympic cycle.

“It was a great rookie year,” Norman said, “but I have a lot of learning to do. … I’m just going to have to really focus on myself and start becoming a little bit more selfish when it comes to taking care of my body.”

In Norman’s absence, the favorite in Friday’s final has to be U.S. champion Fred Kerley, the second-fastest man in the world this year. Another medal threat is 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James, who scarcely competed since a silver in Rio due to Graves’ disease.

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