BEIJING, CHINA - Former Duck Phyllis Francis put together a strong surge in the final 30 meters of her semifinal race to qualify for the 400 meter finals at the World Track & Field Championships.
Francis’ finishing speed carried her past two runners and into third place in a time of 50.50, which was just fast enough to get her into Thursday’s finals. She joins U.S. teammate and event favorite Allyson Felix as the two Americans in the field of eight. Her time was just off her all-time best of 50.46, set at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2014.
“I’m just so happy I made it,” Francis said. “I wanted to get out and then stay with the group. Then the last 150 I wanted to kick and go from there. I’m just happy that I get a day off tomorrow to rest and recover and try this all over again on Thursday.”
The 2014 UO graduate has remained in Eugene, and continues to train under her college coaches, Robert Johnson and Curtis Taylor. Francis said she will also “most definitely” be a part of the U.S. women’s 4 x 400 relay when that gets underway in four days.
“I love relays so that’s something to look forward to at the end of the meet.”
A day after the American women pulled off a surprising 3-4-6 finish in the 10,000 meter finals, Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson found only disappointment in Tuesday’s 1500 meter finals.
After a very slow early pace, Rowbury couldn’t respond to a strong mid-race move by winner Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, and finished in seventh in 4:12.39. Dibaba, who set the world record earlier this summer, won in 4:08.09.
“I just couldn’t match the move that they made at the beginning,” Rowbury said. “It was a hard push from a long way out. I figured that might happen, and I thought I would have a little more in the tank. It just wasn’t the case today.”
Simpson, the silver medalist in 2013, finished 11 th in 4:16.28. Another runner stepped on her heel early in the race causing her shoe to come partially off. Simpson tried to keep it on and continue running, but eventually discarded it with 700 meters to go and ran the remainder of the race with just one shoe.