The 27-year-old Californian-born Israeli broke the Israeli national record in Wednesday’s semi-final heat in a time of 45.39 to reach the final, and he bettered that further in the final, finishing in third, in a time of 45.27.
Speaking on his return to Israel, he said: “I’m an athlete and I’m competitive and I went for it. I didn’t think I would break the record again in the final, but I felt good and my legs felt good. I executed the race exactly like I planned. I gave it my best shot and it worked out.
“This medal is my ultimate gift to the State of Israel, to its citizens and mainly to its soldiers.”
Sanford’s win was only Israel’s third ever medal won at the Championships, the Soviet-born pole vaulter Aleksandr Averbukh having won two gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 tournaments.
Sunday’s final day of action sees Ma’ayan Shahaf take part in the high-jump final. Needing to clear 1.85m in Friday’s qualifying to reach the final, she did so with her first attempt, saying: “I’m happy that I reached the final, but not with the way I did so, I didn’t really manage to jump the way I can and the way I want to.”
Elsewhere, Barihun Webe, Zohar Zimro, Yamaharan Yosef and Amir Ramon will be running in the men’s marathon.