Joanna Atkins in action in her 400m heat at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
In the opening track event at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, the women’s 400m exponents began their qualifying campaign.
Nigeria’s Regina George clocked the fastest time in the first round by a comfortable margin, registering a swift 51.60 season’s best to take the first heat.
The 23-year-old winner of the Birmingham Grand Prix was followed by Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas. The 19-year-old 2010 world junior champion looked confident with 52.10 to cross the line first in the third heat.
Poland’s Justyna Swiety took advantage of the rapturous home support, speeding to a 52.13 lifetime best in finishing runner-up to George, as Jamaica’s Patricia Hall also qualified from the first heat with a 52.19 clocking.
Jamaica’s 400m hurdles specialist Kaliese Spencer took charge in the second heat with 52.26, while Czech Republic’s 2011 European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova claimed the fourth heat with a 52.37 season’s best.
Behind her, Francena McCorory – the fastest woman in the world this winter with a 50.85 to capture the US title last month – registered 52.37.
Russia’s Kseniya Ryzhova took a comfortable second place behind Miller in the third heat with 52.47, as Lisanne De Witte of the Netherlands claimed the runner-up spot in the second heat with a 52.61 personal best.
Nicola Bamford for the IAAF