Dalilah Muhammad 400m hurdles Moscow 2013 World Championships () © Copyright
Preview London, UK

Preview: women's 400m hurdles – IAAF World Championships London 2017

A little over five weeks ago, the final of the women's 400m hurdles at the US championships illustrated just how deep the country's pool of hurdling talent is. It's momentum the London-bound US quartet hope to turn into the event's first national medal sweep at a World Championship.

How deep was that Sacrament race on 25 June? For the first time ever, three women dipped under 53 seconds --and six under 54-- in the same race. Dalilah Muhammad, the Olympic champion, led that parade of speed with a 52.64 performance, a US all-comers record that landed her in the No. 6 position all-time. The 53.13 performance that brought her gold in Rio would have only been good enough for fifth here, such was the unprecedented quality behind her. Shamier Little improved to 52.75 and Kori Carter to 52.96 to round out the podium. Ashley Spencer, whose 53.11 in fourth, which placed her just outside the event's all-time top-20, was only enough to secure a spot as an alternate.

In the interim, however, Muhammad's appearances have been low key, some two seconds slower than her Sacramento triumph, putting her into question. She clocked 54.62 in Budapest to finish third, dropped out of her race in Lausanne, and finished a distant sixth in the London leg of the IAAF Diamond League in 54.99.

Little, meanwhile, was a distant sixth in Lausanne but bounced back in Monaco where she second in 54.02. Of the trio, Carter has shown the best form, picking up wins in Budapest and Monaco, the latter in 53.36, the third fastest of her career.

Leading the pack to break up that juggernaut is Jamaican Janieve Russell, who's performed well in July, winning in London with a 54.02 season's best, and finishing second in Luzern and Rabat and third in Monaco. Although only 23, Russell, the 2012 world junior champion, comes armed with major championships credentials, which include a fifth place finish at the 2015 World Championships and a seventh place showing in Rio last year.

Jamaica will also be represented by Rhonda Whyte and Ristananna Tracey who were 1-2 at the national championships, the former with a 54.39 personal best.

Czech Zuzana Hejnova returns seeking to become the first three time winner in the event but in form well short of that which propelled her to titles in 2013 and 2015. Four years ago, her victory in Moscow was on of 11 in an undefeated season; two years later she arrived in the Chinese capital riding a four-meet win streak. This year, the 30-year-old has only one victory in four races, her 54.22 in Rabat.

Cassandra Tate rounds out the US quartet by virtue of winning the Diamond Race last year, but trails her teammates by a wide margin this season. The 26-year-old produced her 54.59 season's best at the London leg of the IAAF Diamond League, where she finished second.

British champion Eilidh Doyle leads the home team challenge. She'll arrive with a pair of third and fourth place finishes in IAAF Diamond League competition and a 54.36 season's best from Lausanne.

Lea Sprunger of Switzerland, who's improved to 54.29, could also be a factor in the medal chase, along with Sara Slott Petersen, although the Dane hasn't yet shown the form that took her to Olympic silver in Rio last year.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF