World Champs XVII — Day 1 In Review

Welcome to Khalifa Stadium and its outdoor air-conditioning! (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

Doha, Qatar, September 28—Even with no track finals, the opening night’s action at Khalifa International Stadium provided plenty of thrills, boosted by one unexpected high point: a tremendously vocal crowd more than made up for the seats that weren’t sold-out. On the other hand, an unexpected hindrance gave the horizontal jumpers problems: the much-hyped air conditioning system.
Said long jumper Luvo Manyonga, “I was struggling with my run-up because the track is very fast and the wind was mixed with the air-conditioned air, so I needed to change my run-up… By tomorrow, I hope they will switch off the a/c. All athletes said the wind was strange.”

MEN’S 100

Christian Coleman looked every bit the favorite as he crushed the field in heat 6, easing up to a 9.98 with a faint 0.1 tailwind. Akani Simbine (SA) also looked strong at 10.01. Justin Gatlin won his heat comfortably in 10.06. All of the top 10 on the T&FN formchart advanced. The fourth American, Christopher Belcher, unfortunately ran only 10.23, which made him the fastest of the non-qualifiers.

MEN’S 5000

Selemon Barega triumphed in heat 1, which must have broken the record for the most loudly-cheered qualifying heat ever. His 13:24.69 topped a tight field that had all 5 auto-qualifiers crossing within a second. One of the apparent qualifiers was teenager Jakob Ingebrigtsen, our pick for 4th-place, who was boxed in with 300 left and decided to make his move on the inside. On the turn, finding the traffic tight, he took 3 steps on the infield and was disqualified after the finish—and later upon appeal reinstated. Ben True finished in 8th (13:27.39) and would have to hope for a slow second heat.
Heat 2 was nearly as exciting, with Paul Chelimo kicking to the win in 13:20.18, 0.27 ahead of Talahun Haile of Ethiopia. With the first 8 finishing faster than the winning time of heat 1, True got knocked out. Hassan Mead (13:22.11) got into the final. Only one  top 10 pick from the T&FN formchart didn’t make it: 7. Abdi Hadis (Ethiopia).

MEN’s 400H

The one-lap hurdles stayed remarkably true to form. Karsten Warholm dominated heat 1 in 49.27, ahead of a strong-looking Thomas Barr (49.41). Amere Lattin placed 5th in 49.72. Kyron McMaster won heat 2 in 49.60. The next heat brought us the long-awaited return of Abderrahmane Samba. The local favorite won in 49.08, with fast-starting TJ Holmes holding on for 3rd in 48.50. Rai Benjamin took the next heat in 49.62, easing off before the last hurdle before realizing he needed to hit the gas again before the finish. All of the top 10 from the T&FN formchart advanced to the semis.


Big jumps were hard to come by, as the long jumpers complained that the air conditioning units, which turn on and off as needed, created variable wind conditions on the runway, forcing them to adjust their steps constantly. The automatic qualifier of 26-9 (8.15) proved beyond the reach of all but favorite Juan Miguel Echevarría of Cuba, who reached 27-6¾ (8.40) on his first attempt. No Americans were slated to be in the top 10, but a pleasant surprise came from Jeff Henderson, whose final-round 26-7¾ (8.12) made him the No. 2 qualifier. He wouldn’t have advanced otherwise. Only 2 of the 10 on the T&FN formchart failed to advance: 7. Yaoguang Zhang (China) & 9. Changzhou Huang (China).


Perhaps our formcharting of a 1-2-3-5 U.S. finish was a bit optimistic, as Omar Craddock (the No. 3 pick) didn’t make the final. But with Christian Taylor, Will Claye and Donald Scott all passing through to the final, we still see a 1-2 Team USA finish as a real possibility. The biggest challenge will clearly come from Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo (say that 3 times fast!), who led the Q at 57-¼ (17.38). Burundi’s Hugues Fabrice Zango had the only other auto-Q. Other non-qualifiers from the T&FN chart were Cuba’s Jordan Diaz (No. 8) and China’s Yaming Zhu (No. 9).


Ajee’ Wilson negative-split a 2:02.10 to win her heat comfortably and advance to the semis. Training partner Raevyn Rogers did the same in 2:02.01. Looking particularly underrated was Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo, who led all qualifiers with a solo 2:00.36. The third American qualifier, Ce’Aira Brown, had to fight to 2nd in her heat in 2:01.14. Hanna Green had a rough go of it, running in strong position for the first 700 before fading to last in 2:04.37. She revealed afterward that she had hurt her hamstring a few days earlier, and it started bothering her on the second turn of the race. Two others on the T&FN formchart didn’t make it: 3. Lynsey Sharp (GB) & 10. Catriona Bissett (Aus).


World Record holder Beatrice Chepkoech led the qualifiers with her 9:18.01, with Courtney Frerichs not far behind at 9:18.42. Emma Coburn ran comfortably to 2nd in her heat in 9:23.40, gliding in behind the kick of Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai (9:21.98). Though she missed qualifying by one place, rookie Allie Ostrander impressed by running a gutsy PR 9:30.84. All of the picks on the T&FN formchart qualified for the final, with the exception of two who didn’t run. Daisy Jepkemei (picked No. 6) was not on the Kenyan squad; Fancy Cherono ran instead and failed to qualify. And Colleen Quigley (No. 8) withdrew from the meet with an injury.


Favored Mariya Lasitskene rarely cracks a smile, and she was less inclined than ever to do so here as she had a miss at the lowly-for-her height of 6-2¼ (1.89). She recovered well enough to be perfect the rest of the way, being 1 of 8 to clear the auto-Q of 6-4¼ (1.94). The only ones with perfect records were American Vashti Cunningham and Belarusian Karyna Demidik. One of the 4 to advance on the countback at at 6-3½ (1.92) was Ty Butts, who equaled the PR she set at USATF. Third American Inika McPherson didn’t move on. 4 formcharters didn’t advance: 6. Erika Kinsey (Sweden), 7. Iryna Herashchenko (Ukraine), 9. Nicola McDermott (Australia), 10. Ella Junnila (Finland).


The final will be a crowded one, with 17 vaulters after that many made the auto-Q height of 15-1¼ (4.60). 7 of the qualifiers did so without a miss, including Americans Sandi Morris and Katie Nageotte. Third American Jenn Suhr needed 2 tries at 15-1¼. The highest non-qualifier, Nicole Büchler of Switzerland, reached 14-11¼ (4.55) to equal the highest non-Q ever. With that many advancing, there were no losses from the T&FN formchart.


DeAnna Price’s attempt to become the first American woman ever to win a WC throws gold got off to a good start as she led the qualifying round at 242-0 (73.77). That was the only throw she needed to take. Her teammates had mixed results, Gwen Berry advancing in the No. 10 position, but No. 4-rated Brooke Andersen failing to advance. The only other T&FN formchart casualty was Poland’s No. 9-predicted Malwina Kopron.