Michael Norman wins the 200m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
Michael Norman knows how to peak.
The US sprinter’s three fastest 200m times of the year have come in his three biggest races.
Last month he clocked a PB of 20.15 to win the national U20 title. Two weeks later, he shaved 0.01 off that time when finishing fifth at the US Olympic Trials. And tonight in Bydgoszcz, he set a championship record of 20.17 to win his first global title.
With the World U20 Championships coming at the end of a long season for the 18-year-old, Norman played a shrewd game throughout the rounds. He did just enough to win each time, clocking 20.74 in his first-round heat and 20.71 in his semi-final.
South African duo Clarence Munyai and Tlotliso Leotlela, meanwhile, blitzed their way into the final. Munyai led both rounds after running 20.40 in his heat and 20.54 in his semifinal, while Leotlela was close behind each time, running 20.63 and 20.58 to advance to the final.
The final, though, belonged to Norman. The tall sprinter got off to a strong start and had already built up a significant lead before turning into the straight. He maintained his form well to cross the line a few metres ahead of the rest of the field, stopping the clock at 20.17 (1.2m/s) to break the championship record set 12 years ago by Andrew Howe.
Not only is Norman USA’s fifth 200m winner at the World U20 Championships, he also won USA’s 100th gold medal in the history of the championships.
After just missing out on the 100m podium by 0.02, Leotlela secured silver with a clocking of 20.59. Jamaica’s Nigel Ellis came through strong at the end to take bronze in 20.63 while Munyai finished fourth in 20.77.
“I feel great right now,” said Norman. “To win gold in my first international meet is a truly humbling experience.
“I’m thinking of the next Olympic Games in four years’ time, but I would like to take it one step at a time. The next goal is next year’s NCAA Championships.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF