Barbora Malikova wins the 400m at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 (© Getty Images)
At just 15 years of age, Barbora Malikova defied her age and relative inexperience to run not just the smartest, but by far the strongest race in the girls’ 400m final to take gold in 52.74, taking more than a second off her personal best in the process.
The Czech athlete ran a casual first 100m, entering the back straight a few metres down on all her rivals, but that, it seemed, was all part of her plan.
At that point, Doneisha Anderson of the Bahamas held the lead, having blasted around the opening bend, but then Malikova truly got into her running and began closing down on her rivals. She joined them on the final bend, entered the home straight alongside, then powered away over the final 100 metres, her face a picture of textbook relaxation as she crossed the line.
It made her the youngest every winner of this event, and her time of 52.74 was the quickest by a Czech athlete – of any age – this year. “This is a very nice moment and the feeling is very nice, having won my country a gold medal,” she said.
To the delight of the home crowd, Kenya’s Mary Moraa came steaming through for second in a PB of 53.31. “The crowd really motivated me to give my best in the last metres,” said Moraa. “I’m so grateful to my coach for trusting and guiding me.”
Giovana Rosalia dos Santos third in a PB of 53.37. Back in fourth, Doneisha Anderson also set a PB of 53.59, though it will have proven little consolation for an athlete with her eyes on gold.
The fastest-ranked athlete before the championships, Shaquena Foote of Jamaica, could only manage fifth in 54.04, with Milagros Duran of the Dominican Republic came home sixth in a PB of 54.08.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF