Ashley Spencer of United States celebrates after winning the Women's 400 metres Final on the day four of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona on 13 July 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
The World Junior leader coming into the event and extremely impressive through the early rounds, Spencer was expected to dominate the final yet it still came as a surprise that the 19-year-old American crossed the finish line no less than 54 hundredths of a second clear of Kadecia Baird of Guyana who took arguably one of the most unexpected medals of the championships.
At 17 years of age, Baird had a PB 52.14 before tonight’s final but the magnitude of the event did not seem to impress her as she improved her fastest ever time to a new Area record 51.04!
Erika Rucker added to the USA’s tally as she held on for bronze in a personal best 51.10 ahead of Shaunae Miller, the defending champion and World Youth gold medallist last year in Lille, who finished an extremely disappointing fourth in 51.78.
In fact, Miller was the only woman in the final not to improve on her best time of the year with South Africa’s Justine Palframan setting a National Junior record 51.87 for fifth.
The US won twice the event in 2002 and 2004 with Monique Henderson and Natasha Hastings respectively while 2009 World champion Sanya Richards was second back in 2002.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF