It’s not often an Indian sprinter lines up in a global championship as the one to beat, but that’s very much the case in the women’s 400m in Tampere where Hima Das will look to repel the challenge of a strong USA duo.
Das clocked an Indian U20 record of 51.32 to finish sixth in the Commonwealth Games 400m final back in April. Since then, she has been sharpening her speed with a view to taking gold in Tampere, lowering her Indian U20 records to 23.10 for 200m and 51.13 over 400m.
The US challenge will be led by Taylor Manson, who is rounding into form at the perfect time after taking victory at the US Junior Championships in a PB of 51.74 on her last outing on 17 June. Runner-up that day was Symone Mason, who ran 51.83 to secure her spot in Tampere. She has clocked 51.53 this year and will likely be in the medal shake-up.
Cuba’s Roxana Gomez is the only other athlete who has gone below 52 seconds and the 19-year-old has considerable championship experience, having finished fifth at the IAAF World U18 Championships in 2015 and sixth at the last edition of the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz. She clocked a Cuban U20 record of 51.46 last year to win the Pan American U20 Championships, and her fastest this year is 51.95.
The European challenge will be led by Romania’s Andrea Miklos, who has run 52.31, while the leading African athlete is Ethiopia’s Frehiywot Wondie, who has run 52.84.
Brazil’s Tiffani Beatriz Domingos Silva, Ireland’s Davicia Patterson, Grenada’s Amanda Crawford and Jamaica’s Stacey-Ann Williams have all gone below 53 seconds this year and will all be hoping for a spot in Thursday evening’s final.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF