A 21-year-old Nigerian born athlete has won the gold medal in the women’s 400m event at the ongoing World Athletic championship in Doha for Bahrain in 48.14 seconds.
Born as Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu, to a Nigerian mother and Bahraini father, she changed her name upon moving to the Gulf state.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the pre-race favourite from the Bahamas, looked as if she could scarcely comprehend what had happened. She had just taken more than half a second off her own Caribbean record of 48.97 sec, only to see the performance yield only a silver medal. Such was the effort she had expended, she was still being physically sick half an hour afterwards. “To do a time like that and not win is incredible,” she reflected. “She ran a crazy race.”
“I still can’t believe the time,” Naser said. “When I saw it, I went completely crazy. I was training so hard but I never expected to run this fast.”
“You tell me,” Naser said, as to whether she felt she was now legitimately the quickest of all time. “Running with these amazing ladies, I don’t think I would have done it alone. Against Shaunae especially, I always run for the best because she is a strong athlete. They pushed me to get this time.”
Michael Johnson, the Olympic champion and former world record-holder over 400m, was one left stunned by Naser’s speed. He explained how any runner over one lap usually needs to back off the pace at some stage to save up for the finish. Naser, however, sustained her effort from the gun, recording 100m splits of 12.1, 11.1, 11.9, before fading in the dying stages in 13.1.
“I wasn’t really looking to see if someone was beside me,” Naser said. “I was pushing so hard to the finish, it was only on replay that I saw Shaunae. Once I used to chase her, now I was being chased. It’s amazing. Back in Bahrain, children will now look up to me.”