DOHA, Qatar – In front of easily the biggest crowd since the World Championships started, Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain wrote her name in the history books, after producing a scintillating display of gun-to-tape sprinting in the final of the women’s 400m, covering the one-lap event in jaw-dropping 48.14 seconds.
In the process, Naser at 21 years and 133 days became the youngest world champion. She is also the first Asian winner of the event and has now climbed to third on the all-time list.
Naser, who started in lane five, ran at an unbelievable pace for someone who had participated in two rounds of the mixed relay and now three rounds in the individual flat event. She reached the 200m mark in 22.5 seconds, and when she came off the curve, she led a surprised Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas by a street. Miller-Uibo had plenty work to do and duly switched gears and began chipping away in earnest, but the lead was too great, and she had to settle for silver in a lifetime best and area record of 48.37 seconds. It was Miller-Uibo’s first loss, over any sprinting event, in over two years.
Naser reasoned afterwards that she decided to change her race plan for the finals. “Starting that race I was so motivated,” said Naser.
“Me being me I am used to chasing people, and today I decided to start executing my race as early as possible, and that really worked for me, and I am so happy that I used that strategy. I never expected to run such a fast time, it was a surprise to beat Shaunae, but I have been closing up on her for a long time.
“She brings out the best in me, and I’m so happy to be competing with her,” said Naser.
Miller-Uibo was gracious in defeat. “I wanted to go out there and give it my all, and I think I did that,” said Miller-Uibo.
“I give God thanks that I finished healthy and to finish with a big personal best, that’s pretty huge. We came into the season knowing that we could drop 48 low and we did just that, and I can’t be disappointed with the race because to come out with the silver medal with that time is pretty impressive.”
Interestingly, Miller-Uibo’s husband Maicel, representing Estonia, claimed silver in the men’s decathlon after scoring 8,604 points, also a personal best, on the same night.
Coming into the women’s 400m final, only Team USA with 11 medals (4 gold, three silver and four bronze) won more than Jamaica’s 9 (4 silver and five bronze). Shericka Jackson added another bronze to that tally when she chopped more than three-tenths of a second off her previous personal best after running 48.37 seconds.
“It was a pretty good run,” said Jackson.
“My main aim tonight was just to focus on me and run and execute the best race possible, and I think I did pretty good, I got the bronze medal and a personal best,” said Jackson who confirmed she will participate in Jamaica’s 4x100m relay.
When the women’s shot put final began, four women who occupied the top four spots at the London World Championships were in the line-up. In London, Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd was, after the fifth round, in the bronze medal position until Hungary’s Anita Marton threw 19.49m on her final attempt to knock her off the podium.
In Doha, there was no last gasp heroics to deny Thomas-Dodd, who became the first Jamaican and Pan-American champion to win a women’s shot put world championships medal. Thomas-Dodd, who earned the silver medal, stitched together a consistent series (18.97m, 19.02m, 19.36m, 19.05m, foul, and 19.47m) as only three women went over 19m.
In the fourth round, Thomas-Dodd unleashed a monster throw that looked beyond 20m; however, it turned out to be a foul.
“Last night the qualification round was essentially to get the jitters out because I had not been in a competition for over a month,” said Thomas-Dodd.
“When I came out today, I knew I had to do something in the first three rounds to make the final round. Once I knew I was in the finals, I was able to relax and work my technique, and once I performed to my capabilities, I knew to make the podium would not have been difficult.”
“I wouldn’t mind if one of the team managers could go and look at it just for my peace of mind,” said Thomas-Dodd.
On the throw that was ruled as a foul. “We have to give the officials their props because that’s their job, and I did ask about the throw, and they have assured me that videos are available to look at, but they have marked the throw, and hopefully, I wouldn’t mind if one of the team managers could go and look at it just for my peace of mind.”
Elsewhere, Diamond League winner Shanieka Ricketts of Jamaica qualified for the women’s triple jump final without much fuss. Ricketts did not spend much time out on the runway to enjoy the air-conditioned stadium as she achieved the qualifying mark (14.30m) on her first attempt bounding out to 14.42m (+0.6 m/s).
“I was hoping to qualify on my first jump,” said Ricketts who finished eighth in London. “Now I can go back home and get ready for the final on Saturday on fresh legs. Training has been going good; I cannot complain as I have been getting some big jumps in training.
“My aim is to get on the podium,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts’ teammate Kimberly Williams advanced to the final as one of the non-automatic qualifiers after placing fifth in Group B with 14.20m (+0.1 m/s). American champion Keturah Orji (14.30m) made it through with ease.
“I’m really happy with my performance today,” said Orji. “It was very good as I was able to get the qualification mark on my first jump. I am looking forward to Saturday.”