Sanya Richards has been the dominant force in the women’s 400m for the past five years yet it wasn’t until 2009 that she managed to win a major championships title. Tonight the 24-year-old American champion concluded the season which has seen her win her first World Championships title and her third Golden League Jackpot with an impressive fifth World Athletics Final title at 400m – and her sixth if we include her 2008 200m win.
Coming off two sub-49 win in Zurich and Brussels, Richards was poised to challenge her three-year-old American record 48.70 which was set on Greek soil at the Athens World Cup and the Kingston-born athlete looked well on schedule after running her fastest 200 in three years to finish second to Allyson Felix last night.
Running in lane six, Richards blasted out of the blocks and after 100 metres had already made up the stagger on 2007 World silver medallist Nicola Sanders who was running on her outside. After an impressive opening bend, Richards ran a more conservative back stretch letting Shericka Williams in lane four and Novlene Williams-Mills in lane five not only make ground but speed past her as the trio entered the final bend.
An unusual sight, it was Shericka holding the lead coming into the home straight and Novlene half a step behind. At that point Richards was clearly in third; one has to be honest, it is hard to remember the last time Richards was seen trailing coming off the final bend.
However, her confidence obviously boosted Richards was never seen panicking. Wearing a ‘Livestrong’ yellow vest to support Lance Armstrong’s foundation – the same she was seen wearing at the Paris Golden League meeting at the time of the Tour de France – Richards sped past the Jamaican pair with 60 metres to go and went on to take a clear win, her 10th consecutive this year, in 49.95.
Novlene prevailed over her compatriot Shericka 50.34 to 50.49 as Sanders finished off strong to come from a very distant sixth coming into the final 100 to fourth in 51.01.
African champion Amantle Montsho held off Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu for fifth by just three hundredths of a second.
“I didn’t fulfill my promise and I didn’t break the US record,” said Richards. “But fatigue from yesterday’s race came up on me. My legs were a little bit sore too.”
Richards now holds a record 51 sub 50-clockings which make her the most prolific one-lap runner of all time.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF