Spencer Wins Gold at IAAF World Junior Championships
July 13, 2012
BARCELONA, Spain - Freshman Ashley Spencer won the gold medal in the 400m at the IAAF World Junior Championship, finishing first and setting a championship record of 50.50. The Illini sprinter becomes the second runner to win an NCAA title and a world junior title in the same year since Lashina Demus from South Carolina did so in 2002.
"Ashley had a great race today," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "She ran smart and came out with the win. This was the plan all along. After she broke the school record indoors in the 300m, we knew that a World Juniors title was a possibility. This caps of an unbelievable freshman year. She is one of the most talented people I've ever come across. She has the most natural gift. If she continues to be physically fit and is smart, she will become one of the greatest."
Spencer came into the championships as a clear-cut favorite and began her quest for the gold medal on Wednesday as she easily won the heat in a time of 52.28 to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. In the semi's, Spencer recorded the second fastest time of the event (52.24) to move on to the finals. The Indianapolis, Ind., native ran a championship record time of 50.50 in the finals which is the second-best U.S. junior time in history.
"I can't put this into words," Spencer said. "It is pretty remarkable coming out of the country for the first time and winning gold at the world juniors in a beautiful city like Barcelona. I am very happy but also very tired now. It is a blessing to end the season like this. To be on this level is incredible."
The U.S. won twice the event in 2002 and 2004 with Monique Henderson and Natasha Hastings respectively while 2009 World champion Sanya Richards was second back in 2002.
400m Final Results at IAAF World Junior Championships
1. Ashley Spencer, United States- 50.50