Anna Willard makes it four out of four 800m victories this year, chased by team-mate Maggie Vessey (Getty Images) © Copyright
The 25-year-old, who began the season as the No. 2 American steeplechaser, ended it as one of the world's best 800m runners when she capped her breakout middle distance season with a 2:00.20 victory.
200 metres into the race, Willard tucked in behind leader Elisa Cusma and remained in second until taking the lead off the final turn. Striding on confidently, she was never really challenged to add yet another impressive victory to her 800m resume.
“I started well and ran fast for the first 200 metres to avoid getting pushed,” said Willard, who collected victories over the distance in New York, Paris, and Brussels. After a season in which she also joined the sub-four minute club in the 1500m with her 3:59.38 in Zurich two weeks ago and finished a solid fifth at the World Championships over the distance, Willard has admitted to taking a liking to the shorter distances.
“I prefer the 800,” Willard said, “but I also like the steeplechase.” For now, her plans are to continue competing in both along with the 1500m. Some more off-season reflection may change her mind.
Until tonight, no American woman has ever won a middle distance title at the World Athletics Final. Here, along with Maggie Vessey, Willard led a U.S. 1-2.
Maggie Vessey, the Eugene and Monaco winner this season, moved from seventh to second over the final 80 metres, reaching the line in 2:00.31 to edge Briton Jenny Meadows, the Berlin bronze medallist, by 0.10. Russian Mariya Savinova (2:00.72), the European indoor champion, also overtook Cusma (2:00.84) to finish fourth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF