1 September 2011Daegu, Korea - Lashinda Demus finally realised a life-time ambition when after claiming two silver medals at past Championships she collected the 400m Hurdles gold medal with a magnificent victory ahead of Melaine Walker on the Daegu 2011 track.
Less than 10 minutes after Jennifer Barringer-Simpson had scored a surprise 1500m win for Team USA, she followed suit when roaring to a USA record - beating the 52.61 and then World record which won Kim Batten the 1995 title - and World leading time of 52.47 ahead of Jamaica's defending champion Melaine Walker.
But she continued to press forwards and a titanic battle ensued down the home stretch with Demus pressurised until crossing the line and becoming the USA's first champion since Batten's success 16 years ago in Gothenburg.
What effectively was a two-horse race the 2005 and 2009 runner up beat the Olympic title holder by 0.26 seconds in a nail-biting finish. The ferocity of their head-to-head confrontation saw Russian champion Natalya Antyukh finish a distant third in 53.85.
Then came pre-race favourite and current Samsung Diamond League overall leader Kaliese Spencer. For the second successive Championships she had to settle for fourth position and with a time of 54.01 well off her pre-Daegu World lead of 52.79.
While the 24-year-old former World Junior champion saw her and Jamaican hopes of a likely 1-2 squashed, Demus was whooping for joy. Finally she could take the gold medal which she had promised to show her family, particularly husband and manager James Mayrant and their sons.
"I am happy, I am grateful," said Demus. "I want to get home to see my sons, they are twin boys, four years old. I still have not had a gold medal, so this is great. I just saw my mum, she was so happy. It feels so great to bring it home."
It was fully deserved success. Demus had shown in the preliminary rounds although having raced sparingly during the summer, she was in the best shape of her life. The semi-finals in particular proved a win was on the cards when she was the only contestant to run sub-54 seconds.
The only question mark against her was would she, like has proven her downfall in the past, go off too quickly and tire with the resultant loss of technique. The 28-year-old US champion with only five build-up races on this occasion when it mattered most, did not.
However her pace always kept her nose at the front beginning apparent at lane three amongst a stellar field - the World's Top Six were chasing the three medals - and even after a stutter at the next hurdle, she remained the leader.
Meanwhile Walker after a poor semi where she looked dejected afterwards, was making the best of a bad draw in the outside lane eight.
The race between the pair grew more furious coming around the final bend and erupted coming into the home straight. Walker might reflect being slightly off balance at the eighth barrier may have cost her the defence of the title. But hurdling is ultimately about technique and maintaining a stride pattern.
But she continued to press forwards and a titanic battle ensued down the home stretch with Demus pressurised until crossing the line and becoming the USA's first champion since Kim Batten lifted the title in 1995.
Lauren Lee and David Martin for the IAAF
- Lashinda Demus of United States celerates with her country's flag after claiming gold in the women's 400 metres hurdles final during day six (Getty Images) © Copyright