Kemi Adekoya may not be the fastest woman in the world this year but the Asian indoor champion, best known outdoors for her prowess over the hurdles, confirmed her status as a favourite for gold over two laps of the track in the Oregon Convention Center with a commanding run that resulted in an Asian indoor record of 51.47, improving her own mark set earlier this winter by 0.2.
Running out of lane five in the second of two semi-finbals, the Bahraini sprinter smoothly moved across the track at the break and once in front she was never headed.
Passing 200m in 23.91, Adekoya was challenged throughout the second lap by the US champion Quanera Hayes but despite the American getting on her shoulder on the final bend, Adekoya had enough in the tank to pull away again in the final 30 metres.
Hayes finished close behind in 51.54 while Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson, in similar fashion to the heat, ran a strong final 50 metres to clinch the third and final sport in Saturday’s final,.
Athletes often talk about execution when discussing a race and that’s a word that Ashley Spencer almost inevitable used after winning the first of two semi-finals.
“I just wanted to execute,” said a gasping Spencer to the infield announcer just seconds after crossing the line in 52.39
And execute she did, driving hard out her blocks, like Adekoya being seeded in lane five, hitting the curb when coming off the second bend on the first lap, and then going through the bell in 25.02 before maintaining her lead all the way to the line.
Behind her, Poland’s Justyna Swiety stayed on her heels throughout the second half of the race before finishing second in 53.00 while Slovakia’s Iveta Putalova got a slightly surprising third place to qualifying for Saturday’s final, going past her rivals for the last qualifying place in the final few metres, to clock 53.13.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF