American Phyllis Francis wins women's 400m as Bahamas Shaunae Miller-Ubio fades

By Drew Farmer

Twitter @DrewMFarmer

Facebook @DrewFarmerFreelance

The women's 400m final was agony for the Bahamas Shaunae Miller-Uibo. The Olympic gold medalist had the finish line in her sights only to suddenly pull up with an apparent muscle problem, and to see her lead evaporate. The dramatic end to the race saw American Phyllis Francis win gold and post a personal best 49.92.

The pain wasn't just physical for Miller-Uibo as she dropped completely out of the medal places. Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser took silver while the United States' Allyson Fox was the bronze medalist.

Miller-Uibo came out strong from the starting blocks registering a 0.160 reaction time. Her pace was strong and powerful as she rounded the first turn and by the time she hit the second, Miller-Uibo was pulling away from the pack. However, as she rounded the third corner in the Olympic Stadium and came into the straightaway, she began to slow in the wet, cool London conditions. With 20m to go, Miller-Ubio's chances of gold ended as she was passed by Francis; but she still managed to hobble over the finish line in fourth place with a time of 50.49.

The good news for the Bahamian and her team was no injury was suffered in the race, and Miller-Ubio is preparing for her next event. The runner still has the 200m semifinals to run at this year's World Championships on Thursday. Her team manager and mother, Maybelline Miller, spoke to the press after the race about the incident.

"Shaunae still doesn’t know what happened," Maybelline Miller stated. "She was clear and just tripped. She doesn’t understand it, she doesn’t know what it is."

Silver medalist Naser is perhaps the biggest surprise from the women's 400m events. The Bahraini qualified for the final with the fastest times in the heats and semifinals. Her time of 50.06 set a national record for the women's 400m in Bahrain, and her progression as one of the rising stars of women's athletics continues after her impressive World Championships.

For race winner Phyllis Francis, it was her first gold medal in the women's 400m. She had previously won bronze at the 2011 PanAmerican Junior Championships, but this was her biggest individual prize yet. The American had tasted gold previously, but in the women's 4x400m relay last summer in Rio.

After crossing the finish line on Wednesday night, Francis appeared subdued as though she couldn't believe she had just won gold. Speaking to the press, Francis spoke about not yet realizing she had achieved her dream of being world champion.

"It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so excited. It is such an amazing feeling. Being world champion sounds pretty cool. This win has not hit me yet, but I guess it will tomorrow when I wake up.

"When I went down the home straight, I just believed in myself and stayed patient. I just knew what I was capable of doing, so I stuck to my race model.

"At the finish line I was surprised. I thought I was second or third, but then they told me, 'You are first'. That is crazy."

Jamaica's Shericka Jackson finished in fifth place followed by teammate Stephenie Ann McPherson. Zambia's Kabange Mupopo finished seventh while Jamaica's Novlene Williams-Mills came eighth.

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