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≡ WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
An inauspicious beginning at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest with heavy rain delaying the morning qualifying by an hour, but the weather cleared for the evening session, with 84 F temperatures at the start. But the competition heated up quickly in the evening finals, starting with a historic performance in the men’s shot.
● Men/Shot Put ● The story was the left leg of Olympic and World Champion Ryan Crouser of the U.S., who came to Budapest with two blood clots in his left leg. He got his qualifier in the morning with one chuck, at 21.48 m (70-5 3/4).
What about the final? No suspense, as Crouser was first in the order and spun to a brilliant 22.63 m (74-3), a distance only teammate (and two-time World Champion) Joe Kovacs has reached this season. Kovacs moved into second at 21.55 m (70-8 1/2) in the first round, then Crouser slammed the door shut in round two: 22.98 m (75-4 3/4), improving his own World Championships record from last year.
Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri produced a huge lifetime best in round three at 22.34 m (73-3 1/2) to move into second, with Tom Walsh (NZL: 21.93 m/71-11 1/2) in third and Kovacs fifth. Then Kovacs jumped onto the podium in the fifth round at 22.12 m (72-7), and Fabbri fouled on a monster throw.
Then Crouser exploded in round six – he knew it when he threw it – and sent the 16-pound ball way beyond the record line at a sensational 23.51 m (77-1 3/4), the number two throw of all time! Pretty good for a guy with two blood cots in his leg!
Fabbri took second and Kovacs was third, with his fifth career Worlds shot medal (2-2-1). American Payton Otterdahl was fifth at 21.86 m (71-8 3/4).
Crouser now owns 10 of the 11 best throws in history. The average of his four fair throws was 22.85 m (74-11 3/4), further than anyone else threw once.
You want more drama? How about this:
● Mixed 4×400 m ● The U.S. led the qualifying with Ryan Willie, Rosey Effiong, Justin Robinson and Alexis Holmes running 3:10.41, the no. 9 performance in history.
For the final, the U.S. chose Robinson, Effiong, Matthew Boling and Alexis Holmes, with Effiong and the Dutch close on the hand-off, with Boling taking the stick in second. But Boling handed off second to Isaya Klein Ikkink, and Dutch superstar Femke Bol – 49.82 this season – took off with the lead over Holmes of the U.S., whose lifetime best of 50.32 ranked her 20th in the world.
That’s why races are run on the track and not on paper. Bol maintained a modest lead and looked in control into the straight, but Holmes – astonishingly – was pressing and pressing hard. They were a foot apart with 12 m left, when Bol simply fell down and had the baton fly out of her hand and into the infield!
Holmes finished with the gold and the U.S. set a world record of 3:08.80, sharing $80,000 for the win and $100,000 for a world-record bonus! Great Britain got second in 3:11.06 and the Czech Republic was third in 3:11.98.
Robinson ran 44.47, Effiong 50.38, Boling 45.13 and Holmes went crazy, finishing in 48.82 to seize the win and completely change the trajectory of her career.
Bol, stunned, double over in frustration after getting to her feet, with the Dutch disqualified.
And there was more, again involving the Dutch:
● Women/10,000 m ● The Olympic champ, Dutch star Sifan Hassan, was trying for a 10,000-1,500-5,000 m triple, where she finished 1-3-1 in Tokyo. By 6,000 m, the racing has started, with world leader Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) now in the lead, and eight laps left, Tsegay, defending champ Letsenbet Gidey and Ejgayegu Taye – all from Ethiopia – were 1-3-4.
With five laps left, it was Taye in the lead over Kenyans Grace Nawowuna and Agnes Ngetich and Gidey, but with 10 in contention. Just two laps left, and Nawowuna and Tsegay were 1-2, but with 10 still together.
Gidey took charge with Tsegay with 600 m left and American Alicia Monson fourth, and then the bell with Gidey and Tsegay 1-2 at the bell and then everyone started sprinting. Hassan moved fastest around the first turn and got to the front on the backstraight, with only Tsegay and Gidey able to chase.
On the straight, it was Hassan and Tsegay, with Hassan leading but seeming to move laterally, slightly out toward where Tsegay was sprinting and then appeared to overstride and trip herself on the track, falling with 80 m left. Tsegay rolled to the win at the top of an Ethiopian sweep (31:27.18), ahead of Gidey (31:28.16) and Taye (31:28.31). American Monson was fifth (31:32.29); Elise Cranny was 12th (31:57.31) and Natosha Rogers in 14th (32:08.05).
Hassan walked in in 11th (31:35.51). It’s the first sweep in the event since the Kenyans did it in 2011.
● Men/20 km walk ● Spain’s European Champion, Alvaro Martin, had a lifetime best of 1:18:49 in June and took control of this race at 15 km and was never headed, increasing lead to 13 seconds with 1,000 m left and winning in a world-leading time of 1:17:32. Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom closed hard in the final km for second over Caio Bonfim (BRA), 1:17:39-1:17:47. Canada’s Evan Dunfee was fourth in 1:18:03; placers 2-6 all set national records.
American Nick Christie was 41st in a seasonal best of 1:26:21. It’s Martin’s first Worlds medal, after a seventh last year and fourth in Tokyo in 2021; he authored the second-fastest time in World Championships history. It’s the fourth for Karlstrom, after a bronze in 2019 and last year in Eugene. Bonfim won his second Worlds bronze, also in 2019.
Lots of prelims on Saturday, mostly (but not completely) to form:
● Men/100 m ● No huge surprises. Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, the world leader, got out slowly in heat one, but finally got going by 50 m and won eased up in 10.00 (wind: 0.0 m/s). American star Noah Lyles was in lane nine in heat two, but Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala exploded from the blocks and was in front, but Lyles came on hard in the final 50 m to win in 9.95 (-0.6), with Omanyala in 9.97.
In heat three, U.S. champ Cravont Charleston had been rumored to be hurt with a left leg strain, and started well, but faded to fifth, behind Raphael Bouju (10.09; 0.0), and his 10.18 will not advance him to the semis. The rumors were true. Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo won heat four un 10.11, just ahead of Rohan Browning (AUS: 10.11; -0.4).
The fifth heat was delayed due to a timing system issue, then Nigeria’s Favour Ashe false-started out. There was another almost false-start, but on the gun, Jamaica’s Oblique Seville got out best and raced to the tape, equaling his lifetime best of 9.86 (0.0), with reigning World Champion Fred Kerley of the U.S. an easy second in 9.99. Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown won heat six in 10.07 (-0.4), with Olympic champ Lamont Marcell Jacobs (ITA) getting third in the final meters in 10.15.
The 2019 World Champion, Christian Coleman of the U.S. exploded out of the blocks and had a clear lead, then eased up with 10 m to go and was passed at the line by South Africa’s Akani Simbine, 9.97 to 9.98 (-0.1).
● Men/1,500 m ● Norwegian star Jakob Ingebrigtsen had control of heat one at the bell and held on to run the easiest 3:33.94 in history, ahead of Josh Kerr (GBR: 3:34.00). Kenyan star Timothy Cheruiyot, the 2019 World Champion, was in front coming into the final straight in heat two, but the too-tightly-bunched field passed him in the final 50 m and Spain’s Mario Garcia won in a slow 3:46.77, with Cheruiyot fading to sixth (3:47.09). American Joe Waskom was in the middle of the pack, looked like he might qualify with a final rush, but finished a non-qualifying eighth (3:47.26).
Heat three was less hectic, as the top six were in place off the final turn, with Spain’s Mo Katir leading, but passed in the final meters by Dutch teen sensation Niels Laros, 3:34.25 to 3:34.34. American Cole Hocker was well positioned and got third in 3:34.43. Kenyan Abel Kipsang led the fourth heat at the bell, with Yared Nuguse of the U.S. fourth. But there were eight seriously in contention off the final turn, with Kipsang hanging on to win in 3:34.08, and Nuguse second in 3:34.16.
● Men/3,000 m Steeple ● The new advancement rules are in effect, so the top five from each of the three heats moved on. Getnet Wale (ETH) won heat one over Jean-Simon Desganges (FRA), 8:19.99-8:20.04, while U.S. champ Kenneth Rooks leaning to win heat two over Olympic and World champ Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR), with both timed in 8:23.66. World record holder Lamecha Girma (ETH) won heat three in 8:15.69.
Said Rooks: “This is my first time in Europe, first time in Hungary so I enjoyed it a lot.”
American Benard Keter (8:24.20, eighth in heat one) did not advance; Isaac Updike (8:31.81) was 11th in heat three, but was fouled, protested and was advanced on appeal.
● Men/Triple Jump ● Stunner from the start as Olympic and World Champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal did not compete. Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert, who won the NCAA title for Arkansas as a freshman and is the world leader, exploded to 17.70 m (58-1) on his second try, easily the best of the day. China’s Olympic silver medalist Yaming Zhu (17.14 m/56-2 3/4) and, Cuba’s 2022 World Indoor Champion, Lazaro Martinez (17.12 m/56-2) and 2022 Worlds silver winner Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR: 17.12 m/56-2) also surpassed 17 m.
Two Americans made the final, with Will Claye reaching 16.72 m (54-10 3/4) for 10th, and Chris Benard suffered two fouls, then getting 16.71 m (54-10) on his third try for 12th. Donald Scott was 22nd at 16.33 m (53-7).
● Men/Discus ● Sweden’s Olympic champ, Daniel Stahl led the qualifying at 66.25 m (217-4), with defending World champ Kristjian Ceh (SLO) third at 65.95 m (216-4).
American Brian Williams was 11th overall and made the final at 63.85 m (209-5); Sam Mattis (16th: 63.43 m/208-1) and Turner Washington (15th: 63.57 m/208-6) did not.
● Men/Hammer ● Canada’s Ethan Katzberg got a national record of 81.18 m (266-4) and led all qualifiers. Rudy Winkler and Daniel Haugh of the U.S. were 5-6 and qualified for the final, throwing 77.06 m (252-10) and 76.64 m (251-5) respectively.
American Alex Young was 14th in the first group (69.10 m/226-8) and did not advance.
● Women/1,500 m ● The heat winners were Hassan (NED: 4:02.92), World Record holder Faith Kipyegon (KEN: 4:02.62), Nelly Chepchirchir (KEN: 4:00.87) and Hirut Meshesha (ETH: 4:03.47). The top six in each qualified for the semifinals, on Sunday.
U.S. champ Nikki Hiltz qualified third in heat one (4:03.76), Sinclaire Johnson – in due to Athing Mu’s withdrawal – was second in heat three (4:01.09) and Cory McGee (4:03.61) was fourth in heat four, all moving on.
● Women/Long Jump ● American Tara Davis-Woodhall led all qualifiers at 6.87 m (22-6 1/2) and was one of just three who reached the automatic qualifying distance, along with Marthe Yasmine Koala (BUR: 6.84 m/22-5 1/4) and Ivana Vuleta (SRB: 6.82 m/22-4 1/2). American Jasmine Moore qualified fifth at 6.73 m (22-1), but Quanesha Burks, no. 4 on the world list this season, managed only 6.57 m (21-6 3/4) and was 14th.
● Women/Heptathlon ● Favored Anna Hall of the U.S., the 2022 Worlds runner-up, got a lifetime best in the shot put and led with 2,975 points going into the 200 m.
She was in heat three, with 2019 World Champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GBR) winning in 23.48 and Hall second in 23.56 (wind 0.0). That left Hall the leader after day one at 3,998 and Johnson-Thompson at 3,905. The U.S. was also 3-4 with Chari Hawkins (3,900) and Taliyah Brooks (3,888).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Doping ● The Athletics Integrity Unit announced that the provisional suspension of Nigeria’s women’s 100 m hurdles world-record holder Tobi Amusan for “whereabouts” failures has been lifted:
“A panel of the Disciplinary Tribunal, by majority decision, has today found that Tobi Amusan has not committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period.
“AIU Head Brett Clothier has indicated the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is disappointed by this decision and will review the reasoning in detail before deciding whether to exercise its right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the applicable deadline. The decision is currently confidential but will be published in due course.”
If the AIU is going to do anything, it has to be quick: the heats of the women’s 100 m hurdles come Tuesday.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!