By Brian Homewood
DOHA (Reuters) – Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser destroyed the field and stunned Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo as she became the first Asian to win the women’s 400 meters world title on Thursday.
The Nigerian-born Eid Naser, 21, surged past Miller-Uibo on the back straight to win in 48.14 seconds, the third fastest time in history.
Miller-Uibo took silver in 48.37. The Bahamian suffered her first defeat over the distance since she inexplicably stumbled with victory in her grasp in London two years ago.
After running the fastest 400 meters since 1985, Eid Naser seemed to be in a state of shock as she sat on the track and covered her mouth with her hand at the end of the race.
“This is crazy,” she said. “I was just hoping for the best but now I’m world champion.”
Miller-Uibo managed to close the gap down the back straight but left it too late to catch her rival, despite herself running the sixth-fastest time in history.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson took bronze while defending champion Phyllis Francis also ran a personal best of 49.61 but could still only manage fifth.
Two years ago in London, Miller-Uibo was clear with less than 20 meters left but she tripped on her own foot, stumbling almost to a standstill as her rivals stormed past.
The 25-year-old also won silver at the world championships in Beijing four years ago and bronze in the 200 meters in London.
Some jeers were heard as Eid Naser’s name was announced at the start, with Bahrain being one of the countries to have boycotted Qatar as it accuses the Gulf State of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies the allegation.
The runners were greeted with the light show which has been a feature of the championships although there were also shouting and whistling as the runners waited for the starting gun.
Naser produced a stunning burst of pace as she caught the big-striding Miller-Uibo and then powered home.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)