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 metres 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 metres 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.
“I still can’t believe the time. Crossing the line and seeing the time, I went completely crazy,” she told reporters. “I screamed so loud, I was so happy. I am used to chasing and today I wanted to be chased and it worked.”
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.
Miller-Uibo was clear with less than 20 metres left two years ago in London 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 metres in London.
A few jeers were heard as Eid Naser’s name was announced at the start, with Bahrain being one of the countries to have boycotted Qatar because it accuses the Gulf state of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies the allegation.
The stadium was nearly full at one point in the evening but many athletics fans had left before the race, which started just before midnight.
The runners were greeted with the light show that has been a feature of the championships, although there was 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.
“I don’t think I would have done that alone, Miller-Uibo pushed me, she’s really competitive,” added Eid Naser. “Without her I don’t think I would have gone this fast.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Paul Tait