EUGENE – World Junior champion is the latest title claimed by Texas A&M freshman Shamier Little as her time of 55.66 seconds won the 400 hurdles on Saturday at the IAAF World Junior Championships held at Hayward Field.
“To go 55 seconds at this stage of my season it’s great,” said an elated Little. “Most hurdlers get out really fast. I do, too, but it’s a different kind of fast. I don’t like to run off anybody else in the race, but if I know someone is coming up on the inside of me I’m not going to back down too much.”
The victory had special meaning for Little as she made amends for a fall at the final hurdle during the 2012 World Junior final held in Barcelona, Spain. Moving into medal contention, Little clipped the 10th hurdle with her trail leg, fell to the track and did not finish.
“By the time I got to 150 meters, I felt I had it,” Little noted. “Coming into the home straight I could hear my coach yelling ‘you’ve got to move.’ At the ninth and 10th hurdle I was just focusing on getting my feet down and getting my trail leg over to finish the race.”
In winning the World Junior title with a 55.66 clocking, Little dominated the final where the runner-up time of 56.16 set a national junior record for Great Britain. American teammate Jade Miller of Harvard set a career best of 56.22 for third place.
Little becomes just the third American to win the World Junior title in the 400 hurdles, joining Lashinda Demus (2002) and Takecia Jameson (2008). Miller is the second bronze medalist for the US.
The 55.66 by Little is the fourth fastest winning time in the history of the World Junior meet, which began in 1986. Demus ran a world junior record of 54.70 to win the 2002 title, while Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer posted a 55.11 in 2006 and Yekaterina Kostetskaya or Russia won the 2004 title in 55.55.
It’s the third victory in the 400 hurdles for Little on the University of Oregon track this summer. She won the NCAA title in June with an Aggie school record of 55.07, which is the world leading time among juniors in 2014, and captured the USA Junior race in early July with a 55.43. Earlier in the outdoor season Little won the 400 meters at the SEC Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, with a career best time of 51.06.
On the Texas A&M all-time list, Little’s winning time is the No. 5 performance as she now occupies five marks among the top 10 performances.