There was an upset in the opening track event of day two at the IAAF VTB World Athletics Final here in Stuttgart as World champion Jana Rawlinson was out dipped on the line by Osaka bronze medallist Anna Jesien 54.17 to 54.19.
It was double celebration for Poland as Jesien’s win came 24 hours after compatriot Marek Plawgo took victory yesterday in the men’s 400m Hurdles.
It was also a rematch as Rawlinson had dominantly defeated Jesien into second earlier this week at the Pedro’s Cup meeting in Warsaw, Jesien’s home soil.
Rawlinson took command of the race at the third hurdle after Briton Tasha Danvers Smith, running in a white skirt which resembled those American Sandra Farmer Patrick who won the World Championships silver on this same track 14 years ago used to wear, was fastest out of the blocks.
Rawlinson had a comfortable enough lead coming into the home straight but as she herself admitted she lacked the finishing speed which helped her win her second World Championships title in Osaka.
As Rawlinson was working hard to maintain her tempo, Melaine Walker of Jamaica in the outside lane 8 and Jesien running in 6 were closing fast. Both Rawlinson and Jesien dipped and although it seemed that the Australian had done enough to secure the win, the photo finish decision went in favour of the 28-year-old Pole.
Walker, who failed to advance to the final at the Osaka World Championships, took third in 54.31 as the year World leader Tiffany Williams was nowhere near the front in fifth in 55.01.
“Oh, this is really great, a very nice way to end the season,” said Jesien. “When I ran the 400m Hurdles in Warsaw on Wednesday, I was very close to Jana. And today I felt I could come even closer to her, but never had I thought that I could beat her. When training, I try to run the first 200m a little slower and save some energy for the home stretch – I guess this helped me. This is really a big surprise for me.”