Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report London, UK

Report: women's 400m heats – IAAF World Championships London 2017

As the two main contenders, Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Allyson Felix, both eased through to the 400m semifinals in second gear, teenager Salwa Eid Nasser took the opportunity to notch the quickest time in the heats.

Nasser, the 19-year-old Bahraini who won the world U18 title in 2015, powered to victory in heat four in 50.57, a national record and a not inconsiderable improvement of 0.21 on her lifetime best.

Phyllis Francis, an Olympic gold medal winner in Rio last year as a member of the US 4x400m team, was runner-up in 50.94, which proved to be the second fastest time in the six heats. Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, bronze medallist in Osaka 10 years ago, bagged the third automatic qualifying spot in 51.00.

Miller-Uibo set out on her quest for an unprecedented women’s 200m-400m double with the third fastest time of the day. The Bahamian, whose dramatic dive won her the Olympic title ahead of Felix in Rio, pulled effortlessly clear of the field in the opening 300m in heat two before easing back down in the closing stages and crossing the line in 50.95.

Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson, third in Moscow in 2013, took second place in 51.27, with the fast-finishing Nigerian Yinka Ajayi third in 51.58.

Felix enjoyed a comfortable passage in heat one. Running in the inside lane, the 31-year-old US athlete, a nine time World Championships gold medallist, surged clear of the field in the opening 300m before taking her foot off the gas in the home straight and ambling home in 52.44. Irina Vasiliou of Greece (52.61) and Australia’s Ashley Kelly (52.70) finished second and third respectively.

“I just controlled the race,” said Felix, who holds the world lead at 49.65 “I just wanted to feel comfortable to qualify.

“I feel good, peaking at the right time. It’s all just one step at a time.”

The most notable casualty from the opening round came in the sixth and final heat. Kendall Ellis, third behind Felix and Francis in the US Championships in 50.00, finished won in sixth in 52.18.

Jamaica’s NCAA champion Chrisann Gordon overtook 2011 world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana to win that race in 51.14. Montsho took second place in 51.37, with Margaret Bambgose of Nigeria third in 51.57.

In heat three, Kabange Mopopo of Zambia won in a 51.09, a season’s best, ahead of  Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (51.26) and Latvia’s Gunta Latiseva-Cudare.

The six non-automatic qualifying places went to: Botswana’s Lydia Jelle (51.41), Romania’s Bianca Razor (51.64), Ruth Spelmeyer of Germany (51.72), Pole Iga Baumgart (51.88), Cuban Roxanna Gomez (51.98) and Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran of India (52.01).

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF