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2008 Olympic Games Beijing - Women's 400 m hurdles

 

 

Host City: Beijing, China Format: Top four in each heat advanced to the final.
Date Started: August 17, 2008 Format: Top three in each heat and next four fastest advanced to the semi-finals.
Date Finished: August 20, 2008  
(Competitors: 27; Countries: 21; Finalists: 8)  
    Venue(s): Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Overview by IAAF   2008_olympic_stadium.jpg 
Walker, the favourite, was the only athlete to duck under 55 seconds in the first round, clocking 54.46. Walker won her semi-final in 54.20, after Tosta had beaten Danvers 54.07 to 54.31 in the first heat. Tosta was the early leader in the final, with Walker and Ross- Williams the closest chasers. At the fifth hurdle Tosta was a metre ahead of Walker, with Ross-Williams beginning to flag. Walker eventually caught Tosta at the eighth hurdle, by which time Danvers was a clear third some three metres back. Walker smoothly flowed away from Tosta, and won by more than eight metres, with Tosta holding off Danvers for second by a metre. Rabenchuk closed quickly, but left herself too much to do to have a chance of a medal. Walker’s run broke Deon Hemmings’s national record from her Olympic win 12 years earlier and placed her fourth on the all-time list.
       
Summary by Sports-reference.com      
This event was quite open as no runner had dominated it in the past few years. The defending champion was Greek Fani Khalkia but she had recently tested positive for steroids (methyltrienolone) and was not on the Greek team. The semi-finals in Beijing were won by American Sheena Tosta in 54.07, and Jamaican Melaine Walker in 54.20. In the final, Tosta led early, but Walker had taken the lead by the seventh hurdle. She was not pressed in the final straight, winning by over a second from Tosta. Britain’s Tasha Danvers, who had overcome numerous injuries, was a solid third throughout and won bronze.
 

Records

Prior to this competition, the existing world and Olympic records were as follows:

World record  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS) 52.34 Tula, Russia 8 August 2003
Olympic record  Fani Halkia (GRE) 52.77 Athens, Greece 22 August 2004

The following new Olympic record was set during this competition.

Date Event Name Nationality Time OR WR
20 August Final Melaine Walker Jamaica 52.64 OR  
 
        Results        

The women's 400 metres hurdles at the 2008 Summer Olympics took place on 17–20 August at the Beijing National Stadium.

The qualifying standards were 55.60 s (A standard) and 56.50 s (B standard).

Women's 400m Hurdles - FINAL

 

In a night stamped by Usain Bolt’s unbelievable 19.30 200m World record, there would be more Jamaican celebration as 25-year-old Melaine Walker sped to an Olympic record 52.64 to win the country’s second Olympic title in the women’s 400m Hurdles.

A pre-event favourite after setting a world lead 53.48 in Monaco, Walker boldly announced before tonight’s race that she wanted to win and she wanted to do so in a new World record.

Walker wasn’t far off her predictions as she ran the fourth fastest of all-time behind Yuliya Pechonkina’s 52.34 World record, Kim Batten’s 52.61 (a mark which was also a World record at the time) and Tonya Bufford’s 52.62.

The women’s intermediate hurdlers came into an electrifying Olympic stadium just minutes after Bolt’s second World record of the Games, and certainly that must have had an impact on Walker who lined up as Jamaican flags were flying in the stands and reggae music was being played.

A semi finalist in Osaka last year, the Jamaican champion timed her kick to perfection not the least affected by Sheena Tosta’s devastating first half of the race.

Her hair up in Mohican style, Walker made her move going into the final curve, caught up with Tosta at hurdle 7 and moved into the lead by hurdle 8. She lost some of her hurdling technique going over the final barrier but she lost nothing of her speed building up something close to a ten metres lead.

“I want to say it’s heart, dedication, discipline and wanting,” said Walker. Well I was kind of expecting it. I’ve dreamed about it a million times. It’s fantastic to win.”

Tosta managed to hold on to silver in 53.70 after she had finished medalless in fourth in Athens 2004 while Tasha Danvers came from nowhere to claim a much unexpected bronze with a personal best run 53.84. It was a fantastic improvement for the Briton’s season’s best 54.31 which set in the previous rounds. She had come to Beijing with a best of 55.91!

Tosta said: “I raced hard for 350m. I can’t be mad with the silver medal. I went for gold and I gave it my all today. I’m just happy to get a medal. I don’t think I can even describe it. It’s been a long four years since Athens.”

For Danvers it was even more emotional: “It has easily been my worst season of my life and one of the best seasons of my life,” she commented. “I was out for half of the season but I kept telling myself that I was fit enough to win.”

Anastasiya Rabchenyuk also improved on her personal best to claim fourth at 53.96 while Osaka bronze medallist Anna Jesien of Poland had to be content with fifth this time around.

US champion Tiffany Ross Williams once again failed to make it to the podium. She was a disappointing seventh in Osaka and here she finished last in 57.55 after she had entered the final straight still in contention for a potential medal.

Curiously Walker won medals at three successive World Junior Championships between 1998 and 2002 but never a gold. She struck the finest price of all on the finest stage of all.

Not a bad place to start…

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF

400 m hurdles Women     Final 20 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 52.64     Melaine Walker Jamaica JAM 1 Jan 83 AR
2 53.70     Sheena Tosta United States USA 1 Oct 82  
3 53.84     Tasha Danvers Great Britain GBR 19 Sep 77  
4 53.96     Anastasiya Rabchenyuk Ukraine UKR 14 Sep 83  
5 54.29     Anna Jesień Poland POL 10 Dec 78  
6 54.96     Yekaterina Bikert Russia RUS 13 May 80  
7 54.97     Zuzana Hejnová Czech Republic CZE 19 Dec 86  
8 57.55     Tiffany Williams United States USA 5 Feb 83  

Women's 400m Hurdles - Semi-Finals

 

After the scare of an early disqualification in her first round heat, Sheena Tosta set the record straight winning the first of two semi finals in 54.07 and prevailing over Tasha Danvers, the woman who had beaten her yesterday evening, in the process.

 Tosta had always alternated between the sprint and the intermediate hurdles until she failed to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games four years ago in the 100m Hurdles but won the 400m Hurdles American title. It proved a blessing in disguise for the then 21-year-old competing under her maiden name Johnson as she finished a superb fourth in Athens.

Four years on and Tosta looks set to improve on that result, well at least she did tonight more than she did yesterday. After admitting she had made some tactical mistakes in the heats, the US Olympic Trials runner-up was more determined not the least affected by the inside lane draw.

“I focused on my stride pattern a lot, which is what I messed up on the first time,” said Tosta. “It was a really good race, I’m quite satisfied with the outcome. Now I’m in the final, and today is a good link to the final.” 

Osaka fourth placer Nickiesha Wilson was the one to go out fast, and as it turned out too fast out in lane nine, the Jamaican being unable to finish among the top four qualifying positions after she had come off the final curve in the lead.

The action in the last 50 metres came from the middle lanes as Danvers, an Olympic finalist in 2000, World bronze medallist Anna Jesien and Russian champion Ekaterina Bikert dipped to the line in this order but with only seven hundredths of a second between second and fourth.

It may sound like a petty detail given that all four advanced but finishing in the top two positions is in fact vital in the 400m Hurdles if one wants to avoid an unfavourable lane draw. As it turned out, Bikert will start in 2 and Jesien in 9 in tomorrow’s final, far from being good vantage points.

Wilson clocked 54.67 for fifth and although her time would eventually be the seventh fastest she will have to sit out the final.

Jamaica’s pride will be solely represented by world season’s leader Melaine Walker, a very comfortable heat winner in semi final two. Walker’s 55.20 was almost two seconds slower than her personal best proving the Jamaican national champion who is undefeated at 400m Hurdles this year didn’t need that much effort.

“I was impressed with my run,” said Walker. “I executed it the way I wanted, so I have to be happy. I just need to keep it together like I am now and God in Heaven will come down with the gold.”

Ukraine’s Anastasiya Rabchenyuk trailed four tenths of a second behind with US champion Tiffany Ross-Williams further back at 54.99. In fourth, former World Youth and European Junior champion Zuzana Hejnova was the last to qualify in 55.17.

Ross-Williams was visibly disappointed with her showing tonight: “Maybe I should have taken the first 200 harder. I should talk to my coach and he will tell me what to do for the final. I need to have confidence to show heart and to keep doing what I have been doing all the year.”

Certainly Walker appeared as the strongest candidate for taking what would be her country’s second Olympic gold medal in the event after Deon Hemmings’ title in 1996. However it could be anyone’s race if pre-race tactics fail, as it was the case for some.

No doubt about Walker’s race plan: “First stride out, relax, hurdle right, kick from the sixth home. I’ll tell you the truth. I’m trying to get the World record…” she concluded. 

The women’s 400m Hurdles World record has never been broken at the Olympic Games and if Walker wants to make history in this sense she would need to cut more than one second off her personal best. But that is another story…

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF

400 m hurdles Women     Semifinal 1 18 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 54.07   Q Sheena Tosta United States USA 1 Oct 82  
2 54.31   Q Tasha Danvers Great Britain GBR 19 Sep 77  
3 54.36   Q Anna Jesień Poland POL 10 Dec 78  
4 54.38   Q Yekaterina Bikert Russia RUS 13 May 80  
5 54.67     Nickiesha Wilson Jamaica JAM 28 Jul 86  
6 54.74     Anastasiya Ott Russia RUS 7 Sep 88  
7 56.69     Satomi Kubokura Japan JPN 27 Apr 82  
8 57.67     Angela Moroşanu Romania ROU 26 Jul 86  
400 m hurdles Women     Semifinal 2 18 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 54.20   Q Melaine Walker Jamaica JAM 1 Jan 83  
2 54.60   Q Anastasiya Rabchenyuk Ukraine UKR 14 Sep 83  
3 54.99   Q Tiffany Williams United States USA 5 Feb 83  
4 55.17   Q Zuzana Hejnová Czech Republic CZE 19 Dec 86  
5 55.69     Aïssata Soulama Burkina Faso BUR 11 Feb 79  
6 55.69     Irina Obedina Russia RUS 1 Jul 85  
7 55.88     Queen Harrison United States USA 10 Sep 88  
8 55.97     Tsvetelina Kirilova Bulgaria BUL 14 Jul 77  

Women's 400m Hurdles - Round 1

 

Lacking reigning World champion Jana Pittman and World record holder Yuliya Pechonkina through injury and with defending champion Fani Halkia suspended after failing a doping control, round one of the women’s 400m Hurdles was pretty uneventful.

With the exception of 25-year-old Shevon Stoddart who failed to make the cut after poorly fading to fourth in the opening heat after the Jamaican had led for 350 metres, all the big guns had an easy day at the office in Beijing Bird’s nest.

US champion Tiffany Ross-Williams bided her time to perfection making her move in the home straight after she had been trailing for most of the early part. Her 55.51 winning effort – more than two seconds off her personal best from last year – was still two full tenths faster than runner-up Irina Obedina. The European Under-23 champion looked as relaxed as one can be on the Olympic stage and Japan’s Satomi Kubokura lowered her season’s best to 55.82 to take the third automatic qualifier and upset the more fancied Jamaican.

After claiming their first ever men’s 100m gold medal yesterday courtesy of Mister Usain Bolt and with his female counterparts still in the run for a historic sweep of the medals, Jamaica still had something to cheer about in the event as World leader Melaine Walker clocked the fastest time of the evening in heat 3.

Despite a very unconventional and ‘dangerous’ hurdling technique, Walker stopped the clock at 54.46 which prompted her to comment: “I think I was too fast today.”

 The other automatic qualifiers were Anastasia Rabchenyuk of Ukraine and Cvetelina Kirilova of Bulgaria with both Eastern Europeans prevailing on US Trials silver medallist Queen Harrison. Harrison’s 55.96 would prove sufficient to make the cut as would 56.37 from fifth placer Aissata Soulama of Burkina Faso.

After failing to make it through the first round at the 2003, 2005 and 2007 World Championships and the 2004 Olympic Games, the 29-year-old African Championships bronze medallist has finally made it to a major championships semi final. She is the first athlete from her country to ever achieve this feat in the history of the Olympic Games. 
 
Other heat winners included Tasha Danvers of Great Britain and Ekaterina Bikert of Russia. Injury plagued Danvers surprised more than a few pundits with her heat win 55.19 tonight as she easily prevailed over Anastasia Ott (55.34) and Nickiesha Wilson (55.75) in a race which had been led by US Trials bronze medallist Sheena Tosta who faded down to fifth.

Tosta opened with a stunning 200m and held on strong in the final bend only to lose ground step after step in the home straight. After seeing four athletes speed past her, the 25-year-old fourth placer from Athens four years ago looked as though she would have to say goodbye to her Olympic dream. Fortunately for her, other heats were slower and she scraped through to tomorrow’s next round.

European Under-23 champion Angela Morosanu who clocked a season’s best 56.07 for fourth was also part of the four fastest losers.

Fourth heat winner and reigning Russian champion Bikert ran through the line speeding past Osaka bronze medallist Anna Jesien who instead shut it down in the run in. The Polish record holder looked extremely convincing in 55.35, two tenths off Bikert and surely she will be in the mix for the honours. Zuzana Heijnova the Czech record holder and former World Youth champion was the last to advance in 55.91.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
400 m hurdles Women     Heat 1 17 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 55.51   Q Tiffany Williams United States USA 5 Feb 83  
2 55.71   Q Irina Obedina Russia RUS 1 Jul 85  
3 55.82   Q Satomi Kubokura Japan JPN 27 Apr 82  
4 56.52     Shevon Stoddart Jamaica JAM 21 Nov 82  
5 57.43     Ieva Zunda Latvia LAT 20 Jul 78  
6 57.68     Lucimar Teodoro Brazil BRA 1 May 81  
400 m hurdles Women     Heat 2 17 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 55.19   Q Tasha Danvers Great Britain GBR 19 Sep 77  
2 55.34   Q Anastasiya Ott Russia RUS 7 Sep 88  
3 55.75   Q Nickiesha Wilson Jamaica JAM 28 Jul 86  
4 56.07     Angela Moroşanu Romania ROU 26 Jul 86  
5 56.12     Sheena Tosta United States USA 1 Oct 82  
6 56.65     Nikolina Horvat Croatia CRO 18 Sep 86  
7 57.99     Michelle Carey Ireland IRL 20 Feb 81  
400 m hurdles Women     Heat 3 17 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 54.46   Q Melaine Walker Jamaica JAM 1 Jan 83  
2 55.18   Q Anastasiya Rabchenyuk Ukraine UKR 14 Sep 83  
3 55.22   Q Tsvetelina Kirilova Bulgaria BUL 14 Jul 77  
4 55.96     Queen Harrison United States USA 10 Sep 88  
5 56.37     Aïssata Soulama Burkina Faso BUR 11 Feb 79  
6 57.81     Caroline Kaboud Mebam Cameroon CMR 17 Sep 78  
7 60.31     Galina Pedan Kyrgyzstan KGZ 29 May 83  
400 m hurdles Women     Heat 4 17 August      
                 
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 55.15   Q Yekaterina Bikert Russia RUS 13 May 80  
2 55.35   Q Anna Jesień Poland POL 10 Dec 78  
3 55.91   Q Zuzana Hejnová Czech Republic CZE 19 Dec 86  
4 56.88     Tatyana Azarova Kazakhstan KAZ 2 Dec 85  
5 57.16     Mona Jabir Ahmed Sudan SUD 6 Jan 87  
6 57.76     Josanne Lucas Trinidad and Tobago TTO 14 May 84  
7 58.64     Laia Forcadell Spain ESP 6 Jun 82  

 

 

 

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