Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic seized the initiative to win the 400m title in a national record time of 45.66sec which was also the fastest run in Europe this season, with silver going to Britain’s Nigel Levine in a season’s best of 46.21.
Bronze appeared to have gone to Pavel Trenikhin, who had set a European season-leading time of 46.00 in winning his semi-final on the previous day, but the tall and powerfully built Russian was disqualified for an illegal move and third place went instead to Volodymyr Burakov of the Ukraine, who clocked 46.79. However, Burakov saw the bronze switch back to the Russian, who was reinstated after an appeal and given third place with a time of 46.70.
Maslak, the 2012 European Athletics Rising Star, got off to a flying start and as the runners broke from their lanes shortly before the 200 metres he established himself in a lead he never looked like relinquishing. But if the Czech runner, who had indicated his fine form with victories at the meetings in Ghent and Stockholm ahead of these championships, constructed his victory on the classic mid-race manoeuvre, the race behind him was a mass of conflict as his fellow competitors jostled for position.
As the field sorted itself out it appeared as if Levine would tuck in behind the leader, but he appeared to be forced back by Trenikhin, whom he followed all the way into the home straight, where there appeared to be another collision between the two with the Briton clipping the Russian’s heels.
As Levine moved through to follow Maslak home, Trenikhin struggled to maintain his momentum and was almost caught on the line by the pursuing pack. But his efforts proved to be in vain.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Maslak, whose best coming into these championships was 46.14sec. “It was a good race and the time was excellent – a huge personal best.”
Levine commented: “The Russian cut in front of me and I had to chop my stride. But that’s what happens in 400m. We’re all fighting for the same thing – I didn’t do any illegal move, so I am safe.
“I can’t believe I came second. I’m just trying to do my best here – trying to make a name for myself. You train to win. I didn’t win, but I did get the second best.”
As in the women’s final, Britain had half of the six-strong field, but their hopes of winning multiple medals were not realised here as Michael Bingham finished fourth in 46.81, one place ahead of team-mate Richard Strachan, who clocked 47.02.
“There was a lot of traffic out there and a lot of stop and go,” said Bingham. “I should have kept pushing even though I was in lane one because I had a lot coming home, a little too much. I’m gutted because I should have been on the podium. I am more excited about the outdoors now, though, I guess, although I’m looking forward to the relay now.”
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