Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made her World Indoor Championships debut successful by winning the women's 60 meters in a world-leading and personal best 6.98 seconds. The Jamaican, who previously won five major outdoor individual gold medals, started fast and added a sixth big-time gold to her Olympic and outdoor World Championships total. She’s also the second runner, along with teammate Veronica Campbell-Brown, to win world titles in the outdoor 100 and 200 plus the indoor 60 meters. Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast was second in the 2014 Indoor final, finishing in 7.01, while American Tianna Bartoletta (formerly Madison) took third in 7.06.
Earlier in the Championships, Ahoure was the fastest in the preliminary heats, with a time of 7.09, while Fraser-Pryce was second at 7.12. Ahoure (7.06) and Fraser-Pryce (7.08) were also 1-2 overall in the semifinals.
Francena McCorory was fourth midway through the women’s 400-meter final, but she powered around the outside, passed three runners at the start of the back straight and pulled away to win the gold medal in 51.12. Veteran Jamaican 400-meter hurdler Kaliese Spencer was second in a personal best 51.54 while Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas took third in 52.06.
Nigeria’s Regina George led the women’s qualifiers in the opening heats with a season-best 51.60, with McCorory sixth overall at 52.37. McCorory was the fastest in the semifinals, winning her race in 51.35. An on-track collision knocked the Czech Republic’s Denisa Rosolova out of the first semi. Russian champion Kseniya Ryzhova was a surprising non-qualifier in the second semifinal.
Nia Ali of the U.S. scored probably the biggest upset of the Championships by edging Sally Pearson to take the gold in the 60-meter hurdles. Ali, running next to Pearson, finished in a personal best 7.80 seconds. Pearson led out of the blocks but faded just a bit toward the end and clipped the final hurdle to take second in 7.85. Pearson just held off Great Britain’s Tiffany Porter, who took the bronze medal in 7.86. Just one-tenth of a second separated first through fifth places, with France’s Cindy Billaud finishing fourth in 7.89 and American Janay DeLoach Soukup fifth in 7.90.
Pearson was the fastest in the heats, running a world-leading 7.79 seconds that actually stood up as the fastest time of the entire competition. Ali tied for second overall in the heats at 7.87. Pearson won the first semifinal in 7.81 while Ali took the other semi in 7.88.
4 x 400-Meter Relay
The start of the women’s 4 x 400-meter relay race was confusing but the ending was no surprise. The first two starts were waved off due to an apparent technical problem with Jamaica’s starting block. The runners then stood up from line on the third try due to crowd noise in support of Ivan Ukhov in the high jump. But the difficulty didn’t upset veteran Natasha Hastings when the race finally began, as she gave the United States the lead after the first leg. Joanna Atkins opened the gap much wider with a 50.85-second split on the next leg. McCorory finished her leg in 50.36 to maintain the American advantage and Cassandra Tate ran by herself as the U.S. gained the victory in 3:24.82, the fourth best indoor time in history. Jamaica placed second in a national and Commonwealth indoor record 3:26.54, while Great Britain was third in 3:27.90.
The American quartet of Hastings, Jernail Hayes, Monica Hargrove and Tate won its qualifying heat in 3:29.06, just ahead of Jamaica at 3:29.43. Great Britain won the other heat.
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