Jana Rawlinson proved Thursday that titles and records mean little _ and that motherhood can strengthen a runner, not break her.
Facing Russian defending champion and 400-meter hurdles world record holder Yuliya Pechonkina, the Australian took over the race midway through and held on over a tense finishing stretch to reclaim the title she first took in 2003.
Just over eight months after giving birth to Cornelis, the 24-year-old came back as strong as ever.
"The last 18 months have been truly incredible. Getting married, having a baby and then coming and winning a world title. I don't think you can beat that," Rawlinson said.
Competing as Pittman when she won the 2003 world title, she married her British coach Chris Rawlinson last year.
Pechenkina had a perfect season until the last stretch but held no grudge, the pair hugging immediately at the finish.
"I'm really hoping that Yuliya and I can dominate the sport and bring a bit more love into the women's 400 hurdles because it's a great event," Rawlinson said.
Pechenkina said it would be love up to a point: "The revenge could come at the Olympics."
Rawlinson finished in 53.31 seconds. Pechenkina took silver in 53.50 and Anna Jesien of Poland was third in 53.92. Olympic champion Fani Halkia of Greece was eliminated in the semifinals.
China won its first medal of the championships when Zhang Wenxiu took bronze in the hammer throw behind Germany's Betty Heidler and Cuban Yipsi Moreno.
Heidler threw 74.76 on her second attempt, 2 centimeters better than Moreno, who was seeking her third title. Instead, she won her second silver in a row. Zhang threw 74.39.
Olympic and defending world champion Olga Kezenkova failed to reach the final. Tatyana Lysenko, the world record holder, did not compete after she tested positive for doping during the spring.
In the 800, defending champion Rachid Ramzi of Bahrain finished second to South Africa's Mbulaeni Mulaudzi in his opening heat but still went through as runner-up. Ramzi was the double middle distance champion from Helsinki two years ago, but lost to Bernard Lagat in the 1,500 final late Wednesday, complaining he ran a bad tactical race.
Ramzi came to Osaka after a season of injury and it already was a huge surprise he took silver on Wednesday.
Instead of Ramzi, Kenyan-born Youssef Saad Kamel set the top time of 1 minute 45.25 seconds to keep Bahrain on top.
Yuri Borzakovsky of Russia, the Olympic champion, moved up with the pack early, seeking to avoid being bunched in. He qualified second from his group.
Pechenkina's silver moved Russia alongside the United states in total medals with 10. The U.S. team has 5 gold compared with 3 for Russia. Kenya was third with 8 overall, of which 3 are gold.
Later Thursday, Tyson Gay would seek to complete his sprinting double. With a comfortable ride through the 200 semifinal, he is an overwhelming favorite to take his second gold of the championships. His teammate Wallace Spearman and Jamaican Usain Bolt are Gay's toughest opponents.
It will be Gay's eighth race in six days and the wear is starting to show. "Whatever I've got left in the tank, I am going to give it all I've got," Gay said ahead of the final.
He already beat Asafa Powell to take 100 gold and still has the 400 relay to come this weekend.
Gay will not have to deal with defending champion France in the relay. Two of its key starters, Eddy de Lepine and David Alerte, were injured, leaving the squad no option but to withdraw early.
De Lepine ran the third leg when France surprised everyone to win the relay in Helsinki in 2005. He has a groin injury.
In the 110 hurdles semifinal, Olympic champion Liu Xiang is looking for momentum to build up to the Beijing Games.
The Chinese track star was clean and fast during the opening heat and will be looking for a repeat performance.