13 JUL 2003 General News

Women 400m Hurdles Final

Zuzana Hejnova won the Czech Republic’s first gold medal here when she stormed around the 400 metres hurdles in a championship record 57.54sec, shattering the mark established by Australia’s Jana Pittman at the inaugural World Youths four years ago.

Hejnova ended up a clear gold winner, but the outcome of this final was far from clear as the Czech teenager approached the final barrier with Ekaterina Kostetskaya at her shoulder.

Drawn in lanes four and five respectively, the Czech and the Russian had been the outstanding winners of their semi-finals, and in the final they matched one another stride for stride until the fourth barrier, when Hejnova began to edge ahead.

Wide on the outside of the track, Mackenzie Hill, of the United States, was blasting a very quick opening 200, but she met the sixth hurdle badly off her stride, and would never get back on terms with the two leaders.

Around the bend, and Kostetskaya - who had set her personal best 58.09sec in the semi-final - kept beside her Czech rival. For a moment, it looked as if she might launch a counter-attack.

But off the final flight, Hejnova seemed to turn on the after-burners, finding hidden reserves of strength, and Kostetskaya gave up  the chase.

The Russian claimed her silver in 58.37, with Hill well back in third with 59.15 as five women broke the minute mark - Denmark’s Sara Petersen (59.42) and Heike Wessing of Germany (59.85) both setting personal bests.

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