Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oregon alum Phyllis Francis pulls upset in winning the women's 400 in London...

LONDON—We are at the halfway point of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships here in London, and while there were no athletes with Washington ties competing tonight, 51,130 folks were treated to some fantastic action on a rainy night that resembled a typical April evening in Seattle.

In a bit of a mild upset, University of Oregon alum Phyllis Francis (above/photo by Paul Merca) made a late charge to beat teammate and defending world champion Allyson Felix, and reigning Olympic champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, running a personal best of 49.92 to take the world title.

Francis moved well but may have spotted the field too much ground, when inexplicably with less than 50 meters to go, Miller-Uibo, who competed at the University of Georgia, stumbled and might have misjudged the finish line, or just plain ran out of gas, as Francis, Burundi’s Salwa Did Naser, and Felix all went past the fading Miller-Uibo.

Afterwards, Francis said, “It happened so fast. I told myself, top 3. Whatever happens the last 50 meters happens. I was focusing on my form and I didn't even know I won until one of my friends started screaming, 'You won!' and I was like, 'holy smokes!' I knew [the medal] was gold because they were jumping up and down and I thought, 'oh snap, this must be really serious right now!' 

When asked if she thought she could win tonight, she said, “No, I didn't think I could win this race [coming into it]. I thought I could be top 3. I try not to put too much expectation on myself because I tend to overthink that. I take it day by day and go with the flow. What I tend to do to myself is run other athletes' races so this race, I decided to do my own race and it turned out really well.”

Having gone to school at Eugene may have helped Francis in her race, as she said that the weather didn’t affect her at all. “I actually like this kind of weather, believe it our not.”

In other events, Norway’s Karsten Warholm, a former decathlete, won the 400 meter hurdles in 48.35, as Olympic champ Kerron Clement of Team USA was relegated to third in 48.52.

The only field event final contested Wednesday was the women’s shot put, as Gong Lijiao of China won the title with a toss of 65-5 (19.94m), as reigning Olympic champion Michelle Carter of the USA was third with a best of 62-9.5 (19.14m).

No Washington athletes compete until Friday; however, there are finals in the men’s triple jump, women’s 400 hurdles, and men’s 200 Thursday.

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