Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 in Review – Women’s 400 Meters

imageThis was a very intriguing event, and one of the top stories in 2011, as it featured one half of the double sprint attempt of Allyson Felix (USA).

Nothing of note happened here in the spring, but once May hit everyone got busy. Felix started the month off blazing, opening up in Doha at 50.33 (May 6) before scorching 49.81 in Rome (May 26) to end the month. Both times she set world leads, beating Amantle Montsho (BOT) in Doha, then Monstsho, Richards Ross (USA) and Mc Corory (USA) in Rome – her Rome victory demonstrating her strength in the stretch.

Prefontaine would start the month of June, and would mark a change in fortune for both Montsho and Felix as Montsho would turn the tables winning over Felix and Richards Ross – this time Montsho showing strength in a race cursed by strong headwinds down the backstretch. Monstsho would go on to win in Oslo, before getting a huge PR win in Monaco, taking over the world lead from Felix with a storming 49.71 – Mc Corory also PRing behind her at 50.29 – in her final race before Daegu.

Meanwhile, defending World Champion Richards Ross was struggling with a season’s best of only 50.61 in a loss in Lausanne (to Montsho) before coming home in 51.11 in Birmingham – making a defense of her title appear very bleak. Then in her final tune up in London she hit on all cylinders clocking an SB 49.66 to take the London 400 – sending her to London, once again looking like she might have a shot at a repeat after all.

But while her 49.66 was faster than Montsho’s PR 49.71, it was not the world leader heading into Daegu as once again the Russians would turn fast times at their National Championships – this time Ana Kapachinskaya blitzing 49.35 to lead everyone in the run up to the World Championships.

Once in Daegu, everyone that should have been in the finals made it, though Richards Ross did so courtesy of being the final qualifier on time – not boding well for her chances in the final. That final was dominated by Montsho and Felix as both went sailing around the track with Felix a lane just inside of Montsho. Off the final bend they were clear of the field with Felix still just off Montsho’s shoulder. And that’s how they would finish as try as she might, Montsho would not let Felix go by as she held her off for gold by an eyelash 49.56 to 49.59 – PR’s for both athletes.

There would be no further races among the top women, which sends us to my top five for the season.


#1 Amantle Montsho Botswana

Montsho started the season with two consecutive losses to Allyson Felix, but would lose no more in an 8 – 2 season. Her season included wins in Eugene, Oslo, Lausanne, Birmingham, Monaco and Brussels as she proved to be one of the few athletes in any discipline that would compete in nearly every major opportunity that was available. She avenged her earlier losses to Felix as they split 2 -2 with Montsho winning the biggie in Daegu. She finally got under the 50 second barrier and set a fine PR of 49.56 in what was easily the best season of her career.


#2 Allyson Felix United States

Felix started off hot hitting 49.81 in only her second run of the year. But doubling over 200/400 proved to be a bit more difficult than she may have anticipated as it took her until Daegu to get back in stride for this event. She was 3 – 2 in the quarter, splitting her season with Montsho and defeating everyone else of note. Earning her #2 here.


#3 Ana Kapachinskaya Russia

This was a tough choice, primarily because Kapachinskaya competed little away from home. But she did win in Berlin and Nice, was 2 – 0 against #4 and was the bronze medalist at Worlds – the record against my #4 being the key. She also had one of the few winning records at 5 – 2, though as previously stated had some home cooking baked in.


#4 Francena Mc Corory United States

Fourth in Daegu, Mc Corory just gets edged out for the #3 spot here as well. She had a very solid season at 4 – 7 – solid because she competed in several of the events tougher events. Unfortunately, she was 0 – 2 against Kapachinskaya in Berlin and Daegu. So I just couldn’t give her the three spot. However, it was still an outstanding breakthrough season for Mc Corory.


#5 Novlene Williams Mills Jamaica

After the top four it was slim pickings this year, as everyone else seemed to struggle through most of the season. In the end I chose Williams Mills. Eighth in Daegu and sixth in Lausanne, Williams Mills had a string of thirds in Birmingham, Monaco, and London, as well as a second in Brussels – at the end of the day better than all except those ahead of her.

Next either the 800 or short hurdles – I haven't decided yet.

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