Allyson Felix in action at the IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: women’s 400m – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

With two of the world’s fastest three athletes not in attendance in Beijing – Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross – after failing to make it through the high competitive US trials, the door is ajar for eight-time world champion Allyson Felix to finally land her maiden global 400m title.

Felix, a three-time world 200m champion, had to settle for silver in the one-lap event at the 2011 edition in Daegu. However, unlike in Daegu when the US sprinter attempted the 200m and 400m double, here in the Bird’s Nest Stadium Felix is focusing all her energies on the 400m.

This year she has enjoyed a deliberate build up but boasts a 100% winning record from her three 400m final outings this season, capped by her victory at the US Championships in 50.19.

Aiming to derail Felix’s ambitions will be defending champion Christine Ohuruogu, who is bidding to make history and become the first woman in history to take this title on three occasions.

The 31-year-old Briton is just the ninth fastest on the entry lists with a best of 50.82, yet she so often saves her best for the cauldron of major championship competition and will be keen to relive the ecstasy she felt when securing the Olympic 400m title seven years ago in this same Bird’s Nest Stadium.

The fastest woman in the field is Shaunae Miller, who shattered her personal best to run 49.92 to win in Lausanne and is another with gold medal credentials. The tall Bahamian, a teenage prodigy and past winner of the world junior and world youth titles, is starting to realise her outstanding potential and will be a serious danger.

A quartet of Jamaican sprinters will also prove a factor, led by the 2014 Diamond Race champion and 2007 world bronze medallist Novlene Williams-Mills. Unfortunately, so far this season the 33-year-old veteran has yet to register a sub 51-second time but for her experience alone she should not be discounted.

On current form, Jamaican champion Christine Day, who equalled her personal best with 50.16 when taking the title, looks a more realistic contender. Yet neither Jamaican Championships runner-up Shericka Jackson or Stephenie Ann McPherson, the fourth-place finisher at the 2013 World Championships, should be ruled out of the medal equation.

Felix is joined on the US team by the hugely experienced multiple relay medal-winning Natasha Hastings, who finished fifth in the 2013 world final, and 2014 NCAA indoor champion Phyllis Francis, who placed third at the US Championships to book her ticket for Beijing.

Also entered are Italy’s European champion Libania Grenot, France’s Floria Guei, who set a PB of 50.90 in Monaco, Zambian record-holder Kabange Mupopo and Nigeria’s Patience George (50.76).

Steve Landells for the IAAF