World Champs XVII — Day 3 In Review

Taylor Gold, Claye Silver

Longtime friends/rivals Christian Taylor and Will Claye sang a familiar tune, going 1–2 in yet another major championship, with Taylor once again the winner. The 2-time defending champ had to overcome early board-finding problems to make it a 3-peat. He was 3.3cm over the board on his first attempt and 7.8 on his second. Claye, meanwhile, opened at 57-9½ (17.61), then upped the ante to 58-1¾ (17.72) on his second. In the third round, facing elimination, Taylor safety-valved it by taking off about a foot behind the plasticine, staving off disaster with a 57-2 (17.42) that lifted him to 4th behind Claye, Pedro Pablo Pichardo (Portugal) and Hugues Fabrice Zango (Burkina Faso). Now free to relax a little, Taylor used rounds 4 and 5 to unleash what would be the two longest jumps of the day, 58-7¼ (17.86) and 58-9½ (17.92). In 4, Claye countered with what would be his best of the evening, 58-2½ (17.74), but that was as close as he got. He thus earned his third straight silver in Worlds/Olympic competition. The big news of the final round came from Zango, who became his nation’s first medalist ever, upping his NR to 57-11¼ (17.66) for the bronze. Marks in places 3-4-5 were the farthest ever in event history.

“I walked away with the gold. I wanted a farther jump, but I am grateful for the win,” said Taylor.

Fraser-Pryce Is Back, Baby!

We’ve seen the signs all week: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is on a tear. The three-time World Champion in the dash blistered the rounds in 10.80 & 10.81 and ran perhaps her finest 100 ever in capturing a fourth title in 10.71. The performance was aided by a mere 0.1 wind (compared to an 0.6 in her PR 10.70). Running in a 7-woman final (Dafne Schippers scratched), SAFP caught a beautiful start and was never headed. Halfway through the race it looked as if victory was assured. For much of the distance, Marie-Josée Ta Lou held second, but European champion Dina Asher-Smith finished best, even slightly narrowing Fraser-Pryce’s margin in the final meters, to take silver in 10.83. Ta Lou got bronze in 10.90, with Olympic champion Elaine Thompson at 10.93. Teahna Daniels finished 7th in 11.19. Defending champion Tori Bowie withdrew before the semis.

Said the champion, “Standing here having done it again at 32, and holding my baby, is a dream come true. I had no sleep last night. Last time I was at a major championships was 2016 and I just could not sleep with nerves. But with mental toughness you will get what you want.”

Sidorova Takes Vault

With a large 17-woman field to wade through, the powers that be set up an aggressive height progression: 14-9 (4.50), 15-5 (4.70), 15-9 (4.80), 15-11 (4.85), 16-¾ (4.90). All but American Jenn Suhr vaulted at the modest opener, 13 making on first attempt 2 on second and 1 on third. Suhr was one off 8 who made 15-5 (4.70) on first try, the height eliminating only 4. But 15-9 (4.80) proved a bit more problematic, opening with 9 straight misses before Sandi Morris had a big-air clearance. Only 6 cleared the height, only Morris and favored Russian Anzhelika Sidorova on first go. Height No. 4, 15-11 (4.85), turned out to be the medal-decider. Morris was very emotional after a big first-try success. Sidorova, much more reserved enjoyed similar success, while defending champ Katerína Stefanídi needed a pair. Holly Bradshaw missed twice and passed to 16-¾ (4.90), where she wasn’t close on her only attempt. A first-try make by Morris elicited a scream, a reaction countered by Sidorova’s stoicism after her make after a height just a centimeter under her PR. Stefanídi missed and passed to 16-2¾ (4.95), where she was never close. Morris had three not-really-close tries and Sidorova had a pair. And just when it looked like the American and the Russian might be sharing gold, Sidorova slithered over, and in a change in character squealed when she hit the pit, having moved to No. 4 on the all-time list.

Said Morris, “But I knew it was going to be between me and Sidorova, I just knew it. This exact scenario happened in reverse at the World Indoor Championships when she got 2nd. I guess she owed me one for that. But I can’t even be mad. I worked, I worked, I worked, it just wasn’t my day. But maybe this is building up to something bigger next year.”

New Mix For U.S. Relay Gold In World Record time

The United States brought in a line-up of heavy hitters for the final and went a long way toward bringing respect to the nascent event. Wil London on leadoff ran a well-paced lap, handing off to Allyson Felix. The Polish team pursued a different strategy, putting men on its first two legs, and actually handed off with a slight lead over the U.S. Felix produced a strong 50.2 leg running well behind Poland. Courtney Okolo took third leg and busted a sub 50, making up a little ground against Poland’s massive lead. On the anchor, the job was left to Michael Cherry, who had to run down Justyna Swiety-Ersetic. He caught her with 250 left and continued to power around the turn and to the line, finishing off a World Record smashing 3:09.34. Jamaica (3:11.78) and Bahrain (3:11.82) tumbled across the line together for the remaining medals. Great Britain (3:12.27) also got the better of the gamble by the Poles (3:12.33). The top five teams all broke the WR the U.S. set on Saturday. However, London, Felix, Okolo and Cherry have assured that the days of easy records are over.

Qualifying Action

MEN’S 200: Favored Noah Lyles, blue hair and all, coasted through to the semis with an eased up 20.24, letting Jereem Richards nip him at the line. Remarkably, with 4 U.S. entrants, Lyles will be the only one in the semis. Rodney Rowe hit a non-qualifying 20.92, Kenny Bednarek jogged in after his hamstring grabbed, and Christian Coleman withdrew from the event. Otherwise, all the names in the T&FN formchart advanced without incident.
MEN’S 800: Hometown fave Abubaker Abdalla surprisingly set the tone for the semis, setting off on a suicidal pace (23.11, 48.72) in semi I. He faded to last, but in the fast wake, Puerto Rico’s Wesley Vásquez crushed a 1:43.96, just missing his NR. The time qualifiers followed Ferguson Cheruiyot’s 1:44.20, with Clayton Murphy (1:44.48) in 3rd. Semi II saw Donavan Brazier calmly take the lead on the stretch to win in 1:44.87. Not qualifying were Emmanuel Korir in 3rd and 4th-placer Brannon Kidder (1:45.62). In the last semi, a tame pace doomed any time qualifiers. Bryce Hoppel produced a well-timed kick to qualify in second at 1:45.95 behind Amel Tuka. Other formchart casualties: Canada’s Brandon McBride and Poland’s Adam Kszczot. ◻︎