World Champs Women’s 400H — Unstoppa-Bol

So rapid has been the revolution in the 400H that Femke Bol’s winning mark, now No. 8 all time, would have been a WR prior to ’21. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

THE SIGHT OF Femke Bol collapsing to the track just 5m from the line in the mixed 4×4 on the opening night, with the gold medal and a WR in her grasp, had left a lingering doubt in many people’s minds about how she would fare over the barriers.

However, in the injury-induced absence of WR holder and ’22 winner Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the 23-year-old Dutch star still had the status of prohibitive favorite in the long hurdles and she duly delivered, exorcising the specter of her relay nightmare.

Running in lane 6, Bol flew hard out of her blocks and was definitively ahead by the third barrier before powering through the first half of the race and around the second bend.

Coming into the homestraight off hurdle 8, Bol had barely a meter’s lead, but she extended that to a full 5m by the finish line and stopped the clock in 51.70, the No. 8 all-time performance.

Behind her there was a titanic battle for the other medals, but silver went to USATF winner Shamier Little, who returned to the WC podium for the first time since she finished 2nd in ’15.

Little, a lane inside Bol, was 5th with three barriers to go but as the others started to tire — and with Bol running away from the rest of the race’s protagonists — she found another gear and edged out Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton by 0.01, running 52.80 for the third-fastest time of her career while the latter produced a 52.81 PR.

Behind the medalists, Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya — back running again this summer after a 4-year drug ban elapsed in November of ’22 — took 4th in 53.09, her third Asian Record in as many races in Budapest.

USC alum and double ’21 NCAA hurdles champion Anna Cockrell was the second U.S. representative in the final and also PRed with 53.34.

Bol had refused to talk much about what happened in the relay as she went through the hurdle heats and semis but she admitted it had been at the back of her mind.

“It wasn’t easy to forget what happened in the final meters of the mixed relay,” she admitted, “but my team was around me and they put me at my ease.”

Bol, who, let’s not forget, ran a World Indoor Record (49.26) in the flat 400 in February, continued, “I knew that the 400m hurdles would be a chance to show up and I was confident. I felt the strength to do it.”

She added: “I took the first few hurdles fast and then I could run at my rhythm. I think I have just had my best first 200m ever, then I just needed to finish the race which I could do easily.”

Little, often overshadowed on the U.S. stage by Kori Carter, Dalilah Muhammad and McLaughlin-Levrone as the trio took the last three world titles prior to Budapest, was a picture of happiness after missing out on a medal with 4th in Eugene last year.

“I feel as if the hard work has paid off. I’m thankful and happy. I’ve been working on controlling my nerves a lot so to come here in this noise and not let it faze me, and not let the heat get to me — that was an achievement,” said the now 2-time WC silver medalist.

“I really am just proud. I stayed calm and focused on one thing at a time. This will really boost my confidence because I know that I am medal-worthy, that I can step on the line. I’m already excited for next year,” added Little.

Muhammad — setter of the most recent pre-McLaughlin-Levrone WR when she won in Doha 4 years ago — just missed out on her fifth WC final after finishing 3rd in her semi in 54.19.


FINAL (August 24)

1. Femke Bol (Neth) 51.70 (x, 8 W);

2. Shamier Little (US) 52.80 (AL);

3. Rushell Clayton (Jam) 52.81 PR;

4. Kemi Adekoya (Bhr) 53.09 NR;

5. Anna Cockrell (US) 53.34 PR;

6. Ayomide Folorunso (Ita) 54.19;

7. Janieve Russell (Jam) 54.28;

8. Andrenette Knight (Jam) 55.20.

(lanes: 2. Folorunso; 3. Russell; 4. Knight; 5. Little; 6. Bol; 7. Adekoya; 8. Clayton; 9. Cockrell)

(reaction times: 0.147 Clayton, 0.152 Russell, 0.158 Knight, 0.181 Little, 0.189 Cockrell, 0.192 Folorunso, 0.202 Bol, 0.207 Adekoya)

HEATS (August 21)

I–1. Clayton 53.97; 2. Dalilah Muhammad (US) 54.21; 3. Carolina Krafzik (Ger) 54.53; 4. Viivi Lehikoinen (Fin) 54.65; 5. Rebecca Sartori (Ita) 54.82 PR; 6. Yasmin Giger (Swi) 56.16; 7. Janka Molnár (Hun) 56.21; 8. Portia Bing (NZ) 66.97.

II–1. Russell 54.53; 2. Cockrell 54.68; 3. Gianna Woodruff (Pan) 55.31; 4. Savannah Sutherland (Can) 55.85; 5. Chayenne da Silva (Bra) 56.25; 6. Eleonora Marchiando (Ita) 56.27; 7. Robyn Brown (Phi) 56.83; 8. Ami Yamamoto (Jpn) 57.76.

III–1. Adekoya 53.56 NR (fastest-ever in first round of 3); 2. Knight 54.21; 3. Folorunso 54.30; 4. Cathelijn Peeters (Neth) 54.95; 5. Zeney Van Der Walt (SA) 55.21; 6. Zurian Hechavarría (Cub) 56.43; 7. Moa Granat (Swe) 56.61; 8. Lena Pressler (Aut) 57.90.

IV–1. Bol 53.39 (fastest-ever in first round of 3); 2. Viktoriya Tkachuk (Ukr) 55.05; 3. Hanne Claes (Bel) 55.13; 4. Line Kloster (Nor) 55.23; 5. Eileen Demes (Ger) 55.29 PR; 6. Sarah Carli (Aus) 55.76; 7. Fatoumata Diallo (Por) 56.03; 8. Eri Utsunomiya (Jpn) 57.98; 9. Yanique Haye-Smith (TKS) 60.08.

V–1. Jessie Knight (GB) 54.27; 2. Little 54.40; 3. Anna Ryzhykova (Ukr) 54.70; 4. Nikoleta Jíchová (CzR) 55.10; 5. Noura Ennadi (Mor) 55.21; 6. Dímitra Gnafáki (Gre) 56.18; 7. Brooke Overholt (Can) 56.20; 8. Agata Zupin (Slo) 57.62.

SEMIS (August 22)

I–1. Clayton 53.30 PR; 2. Cockrell 53.63 PR; 3. Lehikoinen 54.48; 4. Knight 54.51; 5. Woodruff 54.71; 6. Ennadi 55.15; 7. Tkachuk 55.43; 8. Sartori 55.98.

II–1. Bol 52.95; 2. Knight 53.72; 3. Muhammad 54.19; 4. Ryzhykova 54.42; 5. Krafzik 54.58; 6. Jíchová 55.01; 7. Kloster 55.43; 8. Van Der Walt 55.49.

III–1. Little 52.81 (AL);

2. Adekoya 53.39 NR; 3. Russell 53.69; 4. Folorunso 53.89 NR; 5. Peeters 54.63; 6. Sutherland 54.99; 7. Claes 56.06; 8. Demes 56.71.