In a textbook demonstration of how to pace the perfect 400m race, Salwa Eid Naser stormed to a memorable gold medal for Bahrain in a world-youth-leading time and lifetime best of 51.50 at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 on Friday (17).
Adopting a more cautious approach to the first half of the race than several of her rivals, she made her move at 200 metres and pounced down the home stretch to secure top spot and become Bahrain’s first girl to land a world youth title.
USA’s Lynna Irby, who had started the race more aggressively, had to settle for the silver medal in 51.79. Great Britain’s Catherine Reid came through to take the bronze medal in a personal best of 52.25.
The heats and semi-finals had thrown up several possible gold medal contenders, but it was the diminutive Irby who took the bull by the horns from the gun and she quickly loomed up on the shoulder of Naser on her immediate outside.
Running blind in lane eight, Great Britain’s Hannah Williams was also prominent during the first half of the race.
At halfway, Irby held a sizeable advantage but as Naser, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist, started to make her move, the pair entered the home straight locked side by side.
It was not until the final 50 metres when Naser, running in a hijab, started to open a gap on Irby and she went on to secure the cherished prize from her US rival by 0.29.
The delighted Reid won the scrap for bronze by 0.19 from Canadian Kyra Constantine, who had been such an impressive semi-final winner.
Naser, 17, also became Bahrain’s second ever female global champion, following in the footsteps of Maryam Yusuf Jamal, the senior world 1500m champion in 2007 and 2009.
The top seven women all set personal best times in what was a high-class final.
Steve Landells for the IAAF