Admirably living up to her favourite’s role, Sanya Richards-Ross cruised to the World indoor 400m title, further underscoring her return to the event’s upper echelon after two seasons of injury and illness.
Leading from the gun, she held a narrow lead over teammate Natasha Hastings and Russian Aleksandra Fedoriva at the break, but was immediately under pressure from the latter. The Russian made a brief challenge to break through the two for the lead, but was held off. She went backwards and Richards-Ross forward. With half a lap remaining the verdict was never in doubt.
Richards stopped to clock in 50.79, the second fastest performance of the season behind her own 50.71 from the U.S. championships.
“To be honest, I was a little tired from yesterday’s qualifying rounds,” said Richards-Ross, who succeeded compatriot Debbie Dunn as the World indoor standard-bearer.
“I’m happy I came out and took the lead early. I didn’t actually feel when the Russian got close to me.”
Richards-Ross added that she was pleased to not have to adjust her training regimen for the indoor campaign, boding well for this summer’s Olympic Games in London. “It’s a good test to see where my training is.”
Fedoriva took silver but was well back in 51.76, marking Richards-Ross’ 0.97 margin of victory the second widest ever at the World indoor championships.
“Yesterday it was not difficult for me to rest,” said Fedoriva, the European 200m champion two years ago. “Today I ran like I never ran before in my life.”
Hastings was just a few ticks behind in 51.82 to mark the first time the U.S. won two medals in the event.
“My goal was to win a medal,” said the 25-year-old Hastings, who prior to Istanbul, won eight gold medals across various World championships as a youth, junior, senior, and indoors.
Bulgarian Vania Stambolova (51.99) was fourth and Shana Cox of Great Britain fifth in 52.13, a career best.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF