The Associated PressLONDON (AP) — Shaunae Miller-Uibo pulled up with about 30 meters to go. Allyson Felix uncharacteristically faded near the finish.
Phyllis Francis? She just kept on running.
The rematch between Felix and Miller-Uibo in the 400 meters on a rainy Wednesday at the world championships took an unexpected turn. Neither runner wound up on the top step of the podium. That honor belonged to Francis, the 25-year-old American who seemed as shocked as anyone to be crossing the line in first.
“At the finish line I was surprised. I thought I was second or third,” Francis said, “but then they told me ‘You are first.’ That is crazy.”
Francis was among the also-rans during last year’s final at the Olympics, which will be remembered for one thing: Miller-Uibo’s dive over the finish line to edge out Felix.
It was one of the most painful losses of Felix’s career, and in the aftermath, a debate ensued over whether the Bahamian was being sportsmanlike by leaving her feet or whether she had even done it on purpose (She said she didn’t).
For 2017, Felix skipped her signature distance, the 200, to focus on the 400, which set things up for a rematch in London. It didn’t work out the way anyone expected, and not for the first time of this meet. Usain Bolt finished third in his 100. Elaine Thompson, the defending Olympic champion from Jamaica, finished fifth in hers.
“I feel outside forces kind of build these races up,” Felix said. “This whole championships, we’ve seen that, and it doesn’t always play out the way people expect it to. As a competitor, you respect everyone in the race. You saw that tonight.