Allyson Felix wins gold medal in 400 meters at world championships

BEIJING -- American sprinter Allyson Felix won the 400 meters in 49.26 seconds on Thursday to earn her ninth world championship gold medal.

Her total is second only to Usain Bolt, who later won the men's 200 final for his 10th world title.

Ten years after she won her first gold, a 200-meter title in Helsinki, Felix ran the fastest time in the world this year to win in Beijing.

"A great night," said Felix, who took a break from her signature event, the 200, to focus on the 400. "We've been struggling a little bit.

"It was a good time to step up to a challenge and see what I could do."

Wearing white socks stretched nearly to her knees, she got off to a great start in the 400, pulling away in the middle of the one-lap race and then easily beating Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas, who finished in 49.67 seconds.

Shericka Jackson of Jamaica took bronze in 49.99.

A single clap, that's basically all Felix did to celebrate, as the Americans now have 12 medals, including three golds, at this meet.

Had the schedule not been so tight, Felix would have tried for the 200-400 double, but with only 65 minutes between the 200 semifinals and the 400 final on Thursday, it wasn't doable.

Maybe at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro -- if the program gets altered, that is. As it stands, the tentative schedule is for the first round of the 200 to begin on the day of the 400 final. Those races are 75 minutes apart.

But International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said the program isn't completely set, leaving open the possibility that Felix could attempt the feat.

As to whether Thursday's performance swayed any opinions on Felix, who's already the Olympic champion in the 200:

"It gives me confidence in my fitness," Felix said. "It did prove that I can do the process. I can train for it and execute my race plan."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.