Miller-Uibo won the Olympic title in Rio last year and with 50 metres remaining led the field just ahead of Felix, the defending world champion, as well as the fast closing Francis. But then Miller-Uibo tightened up and Francis surged past her and Felix.
The 25-year-old, who won gold in the 4x400m relay team at the Olympics, finished the individual event in a personal best time of 49.92 seconds. Salwa Eid Naser from Bahrain claimed the silver to become the first Asian medallist in the 400m. Felix took the bronze and joins the Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey on 14 medals at the world championships.
“It’s amazing,” said Francis. “It is such an amazing feeling. Being world champion sounds pretty cool. When I went down the home straight, I just believed in myself and stayed patient. I just knew what I was capable of doing,so I stuck to my race model.
“At the finish line I was surprised. I thought I was second or third but then they told me: ‘You are first’. That is crazy.”
Naser, 19, said: “I think I surprised my opponents and I even surprised myself. Coming to these championships, I really did not think about a medal. After all the hard training I have been through, I just hoped to do something big.”
Felix admitted said she was disappointed with the result and scotched speculation about an impending retirement. “I’m happy to have won another medal,” said the 31-year-old American.
“I just love the sport and really passionate about it. I’m really proud of what I’ve done over the past 14 years and as long as I’m having fun and enjoying myself, that’s enough for me and I’ll continue on.”