June 24, 2018 / 12:31 AM / 5 months ago

Athletics - Wimbley storms to surprising women's 400m win

(Reuters) - The United States found a new sprint standout on Saturday when 23-year-old Shakima Wimbley equalled the year’s fastest 400 metres time with an impressive victory at the U.S. championships in Iowa.

Jun 23, 2018; Des Moines, IA, USA; Shakima Wimbley wins the women's 400m in a stadium record 49.52 during the USA Championships at Drake Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Wimbley had never broken 50 seconds in the event until she stormed home in 49.52 seconds to tie Bahamian Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s best mark for 2018.

“She finally trusted in herself and executed at the right points and showed in a race what she has been doing in training,” coach Lance Brauman told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Wimbley’s previous best was 50.18 seconds, said Brauman, whose 20-year sprinter Noah Lyles ran the year’s fastest 100m of 9.88 seconds on Friday, giving him top yearly times in both the 100 and 200m.

The third day of the championships also produced the best women’s hammer throw in the world this year and a sparking victory by 100m hurdles world record holder Keni Harrison.

Deanna Price regained the American record in the hammer throw with a massive toss of 78.12 metres on her fifth attempt. Previous record holder Gwen Berry was second at 72.99.

Harrison came from behind to claim the hurdles title in 12.46 seconds as she overtook Christina Manning (12.65).

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World champions Sam Kendricks and Emma Coburn also celebrated victories as did Olympic gold medallist Matthew Centrowitz.

Kendricks claimed his fifth consecutive pole vault title as he cleared 5.85 metres without a miss. He unsuccessfully tried three times at 5.90m.

Coburn won a duel between the top two 3,000m steeplechase finishers in the 2017 world championships, defeating world silver medallist Courtney Frerichs.

The victory, in 9:17.70, also earned the Olympic bronze medallist Coburn her fifth consecutive national title with Frerichs running 9:18.69.

Centrowitz, injured for much of 2017, produced a strong finish to take the 1,500m in 3:43.37.

Iowa native Shelby Houlihan also delighted the Des Moines crowd, running down world silver medallist Jenny Simpson to win the women’s 1,500m in 4:05.48. Simpson finished in 4:06.21.

Jun 23, 2018; Des Moines, IA, USA; Shakima Wimbley (center) wins the women's 400m during the USA Championships at Drake Stadium. From left: Courtney Okolo, Jessica Beard, Wimbley, Jasmine Blocker and Kiana Horton of Baylor. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former world indoor champion Vashti Cunningham cleared 1.95m to win the women’s high jump but Olympic champion Ryan Crouser had an off day in the men’s shot put.

Darrell Hill beat Crouser with a heave of 21.57m. the Rio champion only produced one clean throw, 20.99m in the second round to finish second.

The meeting ends on Sunday with the winner of field events and races through 1,500m qualifying for the July 14-15 Athletics World Cup in London.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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