You can add Kori Carter's name to the growing list of surprise winners at the IAAF World Championships London 2017. The 25-year-old certainly surprised world leader Dalilah Muhammad down the homestretch, mounting her attack from the extreme outside lane en route to a convincing victory in 53.07.
"I am on top of the world right now," said Carter, whose performance was second only to the 52.95 run that punched her ticket to these championships at the US trials in late June. It was also the fastest run ever in the wilderness known as lane nine, a draw that fit her exceptionally well in the evening's penultimate race.
As expected, Muhammad, the Rio Olympic champion went out fastest, visibly ahead as she sailed over the first hurdle. She padded her lead through the back stretch but the field --more specifically two-time defending champion Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic and Jamaican Ristananna Tracey in lanes six and seven-- began narrowing the gap midway through the final bend.
Muhammad fended them off as she came off the turn, but likely didn't notice that Carter was already running even with her as they approached the eighth hurdle. Carter built a small lead by the time the pair approached barrier nine and was all but clear as they cleared the tenth.
“When you work so hard and sacrifice so much for something, for it to pay off in the end is so satisfying,” said Carter, whose arrival in London wasn’t so much under the radar as it was perhaps overshadowed. After the US trials, she won in Budapest and Monaco, the latter in a solid 53.36 that boded well for London.
"Our goal and focus this year was to get on this podium this year. It's what we've been committed to. To put it together is such a blessing."
Muhammad held on for silver to match her 2013 finish in 53.50. Tracey clocked a 53.74 lifetime best, which propelled her to bronze.
"I really wanted to win, of course, but I've had so many ups and downs this season. To come out with a silver, I'm proud of that,” said Muhammad, who arrived in the British capital as the season’s fastest at 52.64, a personal best run at the US Championships that elevated her to No. 6 all-time. “I always go out to win, but I'm just happy to even get on the podium - it's been a shaky year."
“This season has been full of setbacks and it has taken a lot of mental strength to get into this position,” said Tracey, who smashed her previous best of 54.15 set in the Rio final last year where she finished fifth.
“It was a very strong race and I kept telling myself not to panic. Off the last hurdle I gave everything and threw myself for a dip just in case.”
It was good insurance, but unnecessary.
Hejnova was further back in 54.20, a season's best for fourth with rising Swiss star Lea Sprunger fifth in 54.59. Cassandra Tate of the US and Eilidh Doyle, the host team's captain, brought up the rear, clocking 55.43 and 55.71 respectively.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF