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Monday, August 29, 2011
Allyson Felix falls short of gold in 400

By Associated Press

DAEGU, South Korea -- American Allyson Felix was edged at the finish line by Amantle Montsho of Botswana in the women's 400-meters Monday at the world championships.

Felix, a three-time world champion in the 200, was even with Montsho as they entered the final straight but couldn't overtake her down the stretch.

Allyson Felix
Amantle Montsho won the women's 400 ahead of Allyson Felix with a national record time of 49.56 seconds.
"I'm so happy today to win my gold medal. I still can't believe it," said Montsho, who won in a national record time of 49.56 seconds. "I want to thank all the athletes today. They made me run faster, especially Allyson Felix."

Felix was second in 49.59 and Anastasiya Kapachinskaya of Russia was third in 50.24. Defending champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States finished seventh in 51.32.

The medal was the first for Botswana at the world championships.

Felix, who was trying become the first woman to win both the 200 and 400 titles at the worlds, said it was the kind of tight race she had expected.

"I didn't want Montsho to get too far away from me. I probably could have moved a little bit earlier," she said. "I knew it would be a battle down the home stretch. I felt like I gave it everything I had but came up short."

Felix said she was disappointed with second but wouldn't let it distract her from preparing to defend her title in the 200.

"The way I look at, I can't dwell on the defeat. I have more work to do," Felix said. "The 200 is my favorite event. I am excited for it. I have to go after it. I can't let this get me too down. I have to keep moving."

With her victory, the 28-year-old Montsho bolstered her reputation as a pioneer in sports in her country. She was the first woman to represent her country at the Olympics when she raced in the 2004 Athens Games and hopes her win will inspire more boys and girls to take up sports in the southern African nation.

"Starting from here, I will be an example for the young athletes in Botswana," Montsho said. "They will work hard since they see me winning the gold medal here."

Born in Mabudutsa, in the far north of the country, Montsho was already impressing with her performances in the 100 and 200 in school. But without a coach to help her get to the next level, she relocated to Senegal.

That move yielded almost immediate results. She broke both the 200 and 400 national records, reached the semifinals at the 2007 worlds in Osaka and the final in Berlin in 2009.

Legojane Kebaitse, the secretary general of the Botswana Athletics Association, was there to greet Montsho as she headed off the field draped in the country's blue-white-and-black flag.

"We have diamonds. We have beef. We said we wanted gold," Kebaitse said. "We wanted three gold and we got one. It means all those willing to come to Africa can see Botswana has talent."