Chepkoech Runs Away
When you’re Beatrice Chepkoech and you hold the World Record with a huge gap to the next woman on the all-time list, there’s only one smart way to run a championship. Just go. Outrun ‘em. And she did, through solo kilos of 2:52.95, 3:02.33 and 3:02.56 to a championship record 8:57.84. It was a big redemption from the last Worlds, where her chances were spoiled when she neglected to jump a water barrier and she had to double back. Behind her, Emma Coburn stayed near the front of the far-back pack and with 2 laps to go started breaking away. She ran alone on the last lap to score silver in a PR 9:02.35, strengthening her hold on the No. 2 spot on the U.S. ATL. The battle for bronze was a corker, with Gesa-Felicitas Krause unleashing a simply unbelievable kick to snare bronze in a German record 9:03.30. Courtney Frerichs finished 6th in 9:11.27.
Said Coburn, “I didn’t want to do any work until I was ready to take the lead [of the pack]. I felt strong.” As for chasing Chepkoech, she admitted, “I learned the lesson in Zürich that I can’t go out with her… I don’t think tonight she was beatable.”
Ståhl Dominates, As Expected
The event went pretty much as expected, with Daniel Ståhl of Sweden beating Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres for the gold. There was never any leader but Ståhl who never trailed, the favorite reaching 218-5 (66.59) as the opening thrower. He improved that to 220-5 (67.18) in the second, and that was a mark that nobody else would better all day. He did improve in round 3, hitting 221-9 (67.59). Dacres hit 219-7 (66.94) in the second stanza and that stayed in place for silver. The bronze went to Austria’s Lukas Weißhaidinger with a third-round 219-3 (66.82). American finalist Sam Mattis ended up 11th. After his final attempt Ståhl exploded out of ring in a mad full-out sprint, dashing powerfully into the sector (NFL scouts might want to note his the 6-6¾/320 frame and check his 40 time!).
Team Racing At Its Finest
The Ethiopians showed up. Not just talking about the roar of their expatriate fans. From the start the trio in yellow and green made the race their own, starting off on a solid pace and then gradually speeding up to sap the kicks of their rivals. The four laps from 1000 to 2600 went by in a fierce 4:09.2. Then the pace eased as they relinquished the lead to Paul Chelimo and assessed the damage. With three to go, Ahmed turned on the jets and covered the next lap in 60.9. The following lap he burned a 59.1, leaving only 5 in contention. Then Muktar Edris took off, he and Selemon Barega battling over the last lap, with Ahmed staying close as Chelimo fell off the back. At the finish it was an Ethiopian 1-2-4: Edris 12:58.85, Barega 12:59.70 and in 4th, Telahun Haile 13:02.29. More than happy to spoil the sweep was Ahmed, bronze in 13:01.11. Chelimo finished 7th in 13:04.60. Edris became the first Ethiopian to ever successfully defend a World title in this event.
Nakaayi Over The Americans
Ajee’ Wilson, the woman with the most predictable race plans on earth, changed things up for the big one—just a little. The favorite went out slower than expected, hitting her marks in 26.94, 57.96, and 1:28.14. For the first lap Jamaica’s Natoya Goule challenged her. On the backstretch of the final lap, Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi made a strong move. Wilson accelerated and held her off and led through the final turn before the 24-year-old blasted past her on the stretch to win in 1:58.04. A dispirited Wilson started fade, but no one expected the final sprint that Raevyn Rogers mustered. The Oregon alum stayed clear of the front and with 100 to go was still an out-of-it 7th place. Yet she blasted the final 100 in 13.86 to snatch silver from Wilson, 1:58.18-1:58.84. Third American Ce’Aira Brown finished 8th in 2:02.97.
Said Nakaayi, “On the home straight I was still feeling strong, so I still could push, I knew everything could happen.”
Lasitskene Tops Teen Phenom
Mariya Lasitskene used the best strategy there is for beating your high jump opponents: don’t miss! The favored Russian didn’t do that until she had the gold in the bag and was attempting a new PR. But after 8 straight makes through 6-8¼ (2.04), a setting of 6-9¾ (2.08)—just a centimeter below the World Record—wasn’t in the cards and she had a record third straight title. The real drama came in the battle for the other two podium spots. Vashti Cunningham and Yuliya Levchenko had matched Lasitskene by being perfect through 5 heights, at 6-6 (1.98). The American hope stayed perfect—and matched her PR—by scaling 6-6¾ (2.00), while the Ukrainian needed all 3. Also needing a trio of tries was second Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who turned 18 only 11 days ago. At 6-7½ (2.02), Levchenko wasn’t close on first attempt, then Lasitskene set the bar a-quivering but it stayed, then Cunningham wasn’t close, then—and then!—the young Mahuchikh bounced the bar, but it stayed and she claimed a new World Junior (U20) record.
Levchenko and Cunningham failed twice more and it was on to 6-8¼ (2.04) without them, Cunningham claiming the bronze on the countback. Lasitskene was clean on her first try, while Mahuchikh wasn’t close. Mahuchikh then had great hip height on her second, but clipped the bar with her heels. Her calves snicked the bar on her final attempt, but it jiggled and stayed, giving her a second World Junior Record of the night. With 14 jumps already under her belt, Mahuchikh chose not to jump at 6-9 (2.06), leaving the winner to attempt the 6-9¾ (2.08).
Warholm Wins Battle Of Giants
In an event as hyped as anything in these championships, Karsten Warholm emerged the winner of what many hoped would be a titanic battle among three oh history’s fastest. In lane 4, Warholm started inside of rivals Rai Benjamin (7) and hometown hero Abderrahmane Samba (9). He got out fast as usual, but on the backstretch Benjamin put the hammer down, leading at hurdles 4 and 5. But Benjamin was hurting more than anybody realized; he had a bone bruise he’s been dealing with for a week. He started losing ground on the curve and Warholm took his decisive lead all the way to the finish in 47.42. Benjamin earned silver in 47.66 and Samba, coming back from his own injury woes, won bronze in 48.03. In 5th came TJ Holmes with a PR 48.20.
MEN’S 200: Will it be a Noah Lyles show? The favorite looked solid in his 19.86 semi II win, but Alex Quiñónes of Ecuador was close in 19.95. Adam Gemili of Britain powered through semi I in 20.03. And in semi III, Andre DeGrasses looked a little surprised he only had to run a 20.08 to win. The only formchart loss was Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru, who ran a strong turn from lane 1 but lost ground on the straight.
MEN’S 110H: A great hurdle race is brewing. Jamaica’s Omar McLeod set the tone with his 13.17 win in heat I. Sergey Shubenkov took II in 13.27. Grant Holloway III in a strong-looking 13.22. And Orlando Ortega went fastest of all with his 13.15 from lane 8 in the last heat. However the biggest news came in heat III, where Daniel Roberts ran a dominating 8 hurdles and then got sloppy. At 9 he knocked over a hurdle (not his own, mind you) and then he gave 10 a solid hit, struggling to stay on his feet for a 13.39 win. He was greeted with a DQ for impeding the runner whose hurdle he knocked over. The only other formchart pick to not advance was Brazil’s Gabriel Constantino.
WOMEN’S 200: Some big no-shows in the 200 heats—Marie-Josée Ta Lou & Dafne Schippers (adductor injury), while 100 champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took it off her dance card some time ago. Dina Asher-Smith led the round at 22.32. Surprising Brittany Brown won her heat in a PR 22.33. Dezerea Bryant (22.56) and Anglerne Annelus (22.56) both were among the leading qualifiers. Blessing Okagbare was DQed for running on the line, but she walked away holding her hammy. The only other loss from the T&FN formchart was Brazil’s Vitoria Cristina Rosa.
WOMEN’S 400: Wadeline Jonathas led all qualifiers with her 50.57. Not far behind were Botswana’s Galefele Moroko (50.59) and Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain (50.74). Shaunae Miller-Uibo won her heat in 51.30. The other three Americans made it through, Phyllis Francis in 50.77, Kendall Ellis in 51.82 and Shakima Wimbley surviving a DQ scare in her 51.17. The only casualty from the T&FN formchart was No. 7, Christiner Botlogetswe of Botswana.
WOMEN’S JAVELIN: The auto-Q of 208-8 (63.50) proved surprisingly tough, only one thrower from each group making it. Germany’s Christin Hussong (214-2/65.29) scored in the first, favored Chinese Huihui Lu (220-8/67.27) in the second. Overall, sub-200 qualified with the magical 12th spot coming in at 199-10 (60.90). In London 2 years ago 204-4 (62.29) was required. The U.S. had 2 entries, with AR holder Kara Winger (203-10/62.13) advancing as No. 7 and Ariana Ince (198-4/60.44) not. ◻︎