USATF Women’s 400 Hurdles — Little Remained Alert & Calm

Shamier Little struck when leader Georganne Moline had a problem at the last hurdle. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

Shamier Little consistently wears a bright bow in her hair. She would like her performance to be as consistent.

The Texas A&M alum won her second national long-hurdle title, taking advantage of Georganne Moline’s late stumble and surging to victory. Little’s time of 53.61—her best since a PR 52.75 in finishing 2nd in last year’s historically deep race—made her No. 2 on the yearly world list behind Sydney McLaughlin. “I’m really proud of my finish and how I executed the race,” Little said.

Moline led coming into the straightaway, although Little was closing before the final hurdle. Moline rolled an ankle coming off that barrier, staggered briefly, and that allowed Little to pull away. It was bitterly disappointing for Moline, who at 28 is having perhaps her best season since surprisingly finishing 5th at the ’12 Olympics. “I’ve tried to win another title since college,” she said tearfully after holding on for 2nd in 54.12. “I know I’m ready to run really, really fast. That’s why we have a race. Sometimes it goes in your favor; sometimes it doesn’t.”

Coincidentally, Moline was back on the blue oval where she stumbled and did not make the NCAA final, also in ’12. Cassandra Tate, the NCAA champion that year and WC bronze medalist behind Little in ’15, was 3rd in 55.00. LSU’s Kymber Payne was fourth in 55.54, just 0.04 off her PR from more than a year ago.

Ashley Spencer, the Rio bronze medalist, tripped over the third hurdle and fell. She banged her left knee and jammed her right thumb but, inexplicably, did not break any of her long fingernails. “It happens. That’s the risk you taking being a 400m hurdler,” said Spencer, whose last fall was also here, at the ’16 Drake Relays. “I felt good going into the race. I was ready to run fast.”

Little has been a force for so long that is easy to forget she is still just 23. Her previous title was in ’15, when she went on to win WC silver. She celebrated with a BOB dance and explained she had “just a lot going on” this year without going into specifics. She is healthy and “not an injury-prone type of athlete,” she said. She said her coach’s mantra was that she be both alert and calm; not so easily done.

“Especially me. My attention span is like a goldfish,” Little said. “So I’m in the race, and I’m just like ‘arms, hurdle, arms, hurdle, feet in.’ That’s what’s getting me through it. I’m glad that I’m thinking that more. It really helped my race.” She said her summer goal is consistency, not following a good race with a bad one. After winning NCAA titles in ’14, ’15 & ’16, she failed to make finals at the ’16 Olympic Trials or ’17 World Championships.

As for new pro McLaughlin, she was entered in the 400, but after warming up felt tightness in her quadriceps and elected to withdraw.


USATF WOMEN’S 400H RESULTS

FINAL (June 24)

1. Shamier Little (adi) 53.61;

2. Georganne Moline (Xend) 54.12;

3. Cassandra Tate (adi) 55.00;

4. Kymber Payne (LSU) 55.54;

5. Anna Cockrell (USC) 56.14;

6. Kiah Seymour (Glenard) 57.70;

7. Deonca Bookman (PV) 58.32;

… dnf—Ashley Spencer (Nik).

HEATS (June 23)

I–1. Moline 54.64; 2. Tate 55.33; 3. Seymour 56.23; 4. Cockrell 56.51;

5. Emma Spagnola (Mn) 58.40; 6. Jocselyn Powell (KennSt) 58.75; 7. Faith Ross (Ky) 59.21.

II–1. Little 55.38; 2. Payne 55.55; 3. Spencer 56.26; 4. Bookman 56.64 PR;

5. Kaila Barber (unat) 56.66; 6. Brandee’ Johnson (Fl) 58.36. □

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