Threetime World champion Allyson Felix of the US made it a three-peat at the World Athletics Final too as she added the 2009 title to her victories of 2005 and 2006 here in Thessaloniki.
It may be easy to forget that Felix is not even 24 years of age yet when one looks at her resume and at the way she handles the big races. Tonight again she was supreme although it took the Los Angeles based athlete a “good” dip to respond to the extremely fast finish of 400 World champion Sanya Richards.
Both Americans clocked 22.29 with Felix being given the win by seven thousands of a second.
Olympic bronze medallist Kerron Stewart who won silver in the shorter dash at the World Championships in Berlin was third once again at 22.42 with Berlin bronze medallist Debbie Ferguson-Mc Kenzie in fourth at 22.45.
As the attention was focused on the middle lanes, the sprinters set off to a fair start the first time of asking with no-one making a clear surge in the opening curve. As they entered the home straight Stewart held the slightest of leads over Felix and Ferguson with Richards, a full-lap specialist, still in the mix albeit half a step behind.
With 50 metres to go, it looked as though the Jamaican couldn’t hold her momentum but it was in fact Felix and, two lanes on her outside, Richards who made a decisive move. Felix was marginally ahead with five metres to go and that was when Golden League Jackpot winner Richards upped the tempo one more notch.
Richards caught up with Felix on the line but was still seven thousands of a second off defending her World Athletics Final title.
“I had a terrific season,” said Felix. “It was fun running with Sanya in a very tight race. The season has been very long with many trips and races but I don’t feel so tired.”
Felix who missed last year’s WAF in order to return to California for her School exams was second in the 100m two years ago and winner of the 200 in 2006 when she defeated no other than Richards by 6 hundredths of a second in what still stands as the Championship record 22.11.
Winner of a fantastic 200/400 double last year in Stuttgart, Richards failed to reproduce her exploit but will return to action in tomorrow’s 400 where she is poised to improve on her 3-year-old American record 48.70.
“I expected a low 22,” she said. “I came close to snatch victory but I can’t say I’m not satisfied. A time of 22.29 shows me that I can run under 49 seconds tomorrow.”
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF