Oluwakemi Adekoya made Bahraini athletics history when she became the first athlete from the Gulf nation to win a world indoor championships title, in the process improving her own Asian indoor record that she set in Friday’s semi-final by 0.02 to 51.45.
She has now reduced the continental indoor mark over two laps of the track on four different occasions this winter.
It mattered not that it was the slowest winning time since 1989 because it was a wonderfully enthralling race in the Oregon Convention Center with the capacity crowd roaring on US champion Quanera Hayes and her teammate Ashley Spencer, although the pair ultimately had to settle for the bronze and silver medals respectively.
Running in lane five, Adekoya flew out of her blocks and passed Spencer on her outside in just 50 metres.
Coming off the second bend on the first lap, Adekoya initially looked to have won the race to the curb but Hayes sneaked inside her; only for the Bahraini to re-overtake her just before hearing the bell.
At 200m, reached in 23.81, the order was Adekoya, Hayes, Spencer and Jamaica’s Stephanie Ann McPherson bringing up the rear with the two Europeans in the final, Poland’s Justyna Swiety and Slovakia’s Iveta Putalova, drifting out of contention.
The leading quartet remained in the order they passed the halfway point until the final 50 metres when Hayes got onto the shoulder of Adekoya only for the latter to push again.
In the final few metres, Adekoya was able to hold of the two Americans but Hayes drifted out into the second lane only for Spencer to see the opening and get through the small gap on the inside to clinch the silver by 0.04, the pair running 51.72 and 71.76 respectively.
Until Saturday, Adekoya was better known as a 400m hurdler and her successes included winning the Asian Games title last year.
However, the question now is, will she switch her attention outdoors to 400m without the barriers?
Phil Minshull for the IAAF