20 May 2024

Stunning late surge from Will Stedman wins 400m gold

10:31 am on 20 May 2024
Will Stedman wins gold in the 400m at the para athletic world championships in Kobe, Japan, 19/05/2024. 
Photo Augusto Bizzi

Will Stedman stumbles at the finish line after surging past James Turner in 400m at the para athletics world champs in Kobe, Japan. Photo: Augusto Bizzi

Will Stedman feels his gold medal 400m win at the Para athletics world championships was close to a perfect performance.

The 24-year-old Christchurch-based athlete surged ahead in the final five metres to beat world record-holder, Australian James Turner.

It was New Zealand's first gold medal of the world champs in Kobe, Japan, with Anna Grimaldi later completing a memorable day with bronze in the 100m T47.

Stedman has mounted the 400m T36 podium four times at global championships but his win on Sunday was his first gold medal, and in a national record time of 53.35 sec.

Stedman was fourth with 200m to go, but timed his finish brilliantly to claim Turner with a huge lunge, before crashing to the ground after the finish line.

Stedman, who won bronze at the world champs in 2019 and then silver in 2023, trimmed his national record by 0.19sec.

"It was as close as its going to get to a perfect race. I got out well and ran a good first 200m, staying nice and relaxed. Then started pushing around the bend and in that last 100m just focused on being relaxed.

"It wasn't until 50m to go when I saw Jimmy (Turner) getting closer and I thought something could happen here. Then in the last ten metres, although my legs were completely shot, the momentum managed to carry me through.

"I'm really happy with the way I ran that race, in those conditions and to run a PB - is really cool.''

Grimaldi defied the wet conditions to claim back-to-back world champ bronzes in the 100m, in a time of 12.72sec, behind Kiara Rodriguez of Ecuador, while Saska Sokolov claimed silver just head of Grimaldi.

"I'm so stoked. My immediate thought is I know I can run faster, which is exciting for the Paralympic Games. I'm content with where I am at now, but excited by where I can get to.

"The conditions out there were like back home in Dunedin. We do a lot of sprinting in the rain it probably was an advantage to me."

Grimaldi will compete in her speciality event, the women's long jump T47 on Friday, while Stedman will line up in the long jump T36 final on Saturday.