Courtney Okolo in action at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: women's 400m – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

With only one hundredth of a second separating them at the USA Indoor Championships, Courtney Okolo and Shakima Wimbley head to Birmingham among the favourites for 400m gold.

On 2018 form, the US pair are the quickest in an event where nobody in the field has bettered the 51-second barrier but six have recorded sub-52-second performances.

Okolo won the US indoor title in 51.16 in the altitude of Albuquerque in February and the 23-year-old will hope to add individual world indoor gold to the relay title she secured in Portland two years ago.

Wimbley wasn’t part of the quartet in Portland, but was a gold medallist in the 4x400m in London last year and will hope to improve on her national silver.

IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Lea Sprunger is likely to pose a strong challenge to the US duo. The 27-year-old won all three of the World Indoor Tour races that she contested this year and her best time of 51.28, a Swiss indoor record, suggests that she can compete with the very best.

Poland’s Justyna Swiety-Ersetic has twice made world indoor finals over 400m, finishing fourth in Sopot in 2014 and fifth in Portland in 2016. After setting a national indoor record of 51.78 in Torun, she will be looking to make it three consecutive final appearances.

Home hopes rest with Eilidh Doyle, the 400m hurdles specialist who boasts a season’s best of 51.84, a time she set in taking the British title on 18 February. The 2014 European 400m hurdles champion has an indoor pedigree, having earned European indoor 400m silver in 2013.

Patience George may be the surprise package, having clocked 51.40 outdoors at the Nigerian Commonwealth Games trial. Ireland’s Phil Healy will look to continue the rapid improvement that saw her produce an outright personal best of 52.08 in Vienna in January.

Dean Hardman for the IAAF