Shaunae Miller and Allyson Felix after the 400m final in Beijing () © Copyright
Preview London, UK

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

There have been some dramatic finishes to the women’s one-lap final at the IAAF World Championships in recent years. In Osaka in 2007, and again in Moscow in 2013, Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu came from nowhere to snatch victory at the very death. In Daegu in 2011, Botswana’s Amantle Montsho dug deep all the way down the home straight to hold off the seemingly irresistible force of Allyson Felix. 

In Beijing two years ago, it was altogether different. Felix entered the home straight with a clear lead and never had cause to hasten her smooth stride as she won at relative canter from Shaunae Miller-Uibo, 49.26 to 49.67. In the process, the long-legged Los Angelean (who, like Usain Bolt, has amassed a collection of 13 IAAF World Championship medals, one shy of Merlene Ottey’s record haul) claimed her first global 400m crown.

It was different again, of course, in the Olympic final in Rio last year. The tall, rangy Miller-Uibo led into the finishing stretch and was closed down all the way by the quickening Felix – until, in instinctive desperation, she flung herself at the line. 

The Soviet Yeven Arzhanov did something similar when Dave Wottle closed on him in the classic men’s 800m final in Munich in 1972 but without thwarting the golf-capped US half-miler who went by the handle Wottle the Throttle. Miller-Uibo’s dive won her Olympic gold ahead of Felix by 0.07.

Twelve months on, the stage is set for what promises to be a gripping re-match. The pair have not met since at 400m, although they did clash at 200m at the Prefontaine Classic IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene in May. 

The Bahamian Olympic 400m champion scored a decisive victory over the three-time 200m world champion from the United States. She set a national record of 21.91 behind Tori Bowie’s 21.77 world lead, with Felix back in fifth place in 22.33.  

Felix has raced sparingly in 2017 but was in imperious form when winning the 400m in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London on 9 July, clocking a world lead of 49.65.

Miller-Uibo has broken 50 in all three of her 400m races this year, a season’s best of 49.77 from the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai in May placing her third on the world list – behind Felix and US champion Quanera Hayes (49.72).  

The only other woman to have dipped under 50 is Phyllis Francis, who clocked 49.96 as runner-up to Hayes at the US Championships. Kendall Ellis, third at the US Championships in 50.00, could also feature in the medal picture in London. 

The same could be said of the three qualifiers from the Jamaican Championships: Shericka Jackson (50.05), Chrisann Gordon (50.13) and 2007 bronze medallist Novlene Williams-Mills (50.14) – plus compatriot Stephenie Ann McPherson (50.68), who has a wildcard entry as Diamond Trophy winner.

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF