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Salwa Eid Naser sets fastest mark since '85 in women's 400

AP

Faster than anyone else since 1985, Salwa Eid Naser stormed past Shaunae Miller-Uibo to win the women’s 400 meters at the IAAF World Athletics Championships on Thursday.

Competing for Bahrain, Naser took the lead on the second turn and held off Olympic champion Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas to win in 48.14 seconds.

“I still can’t believe the time,” Naser said. “When I saw the time, I went completely crazy. I was training so hard but I never expected to run this fast.”

That time was faster than anyone had run since Marita Koch of East Germany set the world record at 47.60.

Koch’s world record was set in an era when her government routinely doped its top athletes with vast quantities of steroids. Koch never failed a drug test during her career and has said she has a clean conscience.

“Being world champion has settled down, but the time is still mind-blowing,” Naser said. “Hopefully, I sleep well tonight because it’s stuck here. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Naser was born in Nigeria as Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu to a Nigerian mother and Bahrain father, but changed her name after moving to Bahrain.

Naser is competing in Doha while Bahrain is part of a regional diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar that has been in place since 2017. Her success was down to “hard work, hard work, hard work,” she said.

Shericka Jackson won bronze for Jamaica in 49.47 as the top five runners all beat their personal-best times.

Miller-Uibo had wanted to win a 400 and 200 double in Doha but leaves with a single silver after being unable to run the 200 due to scheduling difficulties. Her wait for world gold continues after winning 400 silver in 2015 and 200 bronze in 2017.

“When I saw the distance between us, I said, in my head, ‘I let her get too far away,’ ” Miller-Uibo said. “I knew I had a lot of strength coming home, but I just couldn’t get her.”

All that was left was to hang out and see how her husband, decathlete Maicel Uibo of Estonia, would do about a half-hour later as he dragged his exhausted legs to the start of the 1,500.

Uibo settled for another family silver after Germany’s Niklas Kaul dominated the final two events to pass him for gold. Kaul, the youngest decathlon world champion ever at 21, threw the javelin nearly seven meters better than anyone else.

Kaul was third before the final event, the 1,500 meters. He beat Uibo by 15 seconds, to win gold with a points total of 8,691, 87 more than Uibo. Canada’s Damian Warner won bronze with 8,529.

Shortly after her husband crossed the finish line, Miller-Uibo walked out and doused him with a bottle of water, then gave him a kiss.

“It’s great we get to celebrate together,” Miller-Uibo said.

They train together, too. Maicel described the relationship as “competitive at times.”

“It’s on and off the track. Anything, really,” he said. “Sometimes we just argue about who loves our dogs most.”

World record holder Kevin Mayer of France withdrew in tears in the eighth event, the pole vault, with injuries to his hamstring and Achilles tendon.

China’s Gong Lijiao defended her shot put title, while Jamaica’s surge in the field events continued with silver.

Gong threw 19.55 meters to beat Jamaican Danniel Thomas-Dodd’s 19.47. Thomas-Dodd hit the 20-meter tape with one shot but it was ruled a foul. Christina Schwanitz won bronze for Germany with 19.17.

Thomas-Dodd’s medal is Jamaica’s third in field events. That’s a new frontier for the traditional sprint power, which has only two medals on the track.

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