With a wiretowire race, Natalya Nazarova of Russia won in a splendid 50.83, fending off last-second challenges of Christine Amertil of Bahamas (51.11) and Germany’s Grit Breuer (51.13).
The Russian had the best time credentials coming into the final, and she flaunted them with a powerful run down the first backstraight, carving out an advantage over Amertil as she moved to the curb at the halfway point, with the first 200 put away in 23.57.
As she did, Amertil tried to create her own space quite close to Nazarova along the inside, and there was a small amount of contact, enough for the Bahamian to have to change pace for a few steps. It gave Nazarova a two-metre lead which she held into the finish.
Breuer moved up well in the final backstretch and appeared on the way to a possible silver. But Amertil did not waver off the final turn and preserved her second-place position as Maebashi champion took the bronze.
Behind the medallists came Catherine Murphy of Great Britain (51.99), American Monique Hennagan (52.08), and Svetlana Usovich of Belarus (52.72).