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≡ WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
Conditions in Budapest for the 19th World Athletics Championships were in the mid-80s for Friday’s events, but the competition was hot again, with final-try wins for favorites Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela in the triple jump and Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi in the javelin.
The highlights were the two 200 m finals, with defending champions Noah Lyles writing more history and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson getting ever close to Flojo’s 35-year-old world record:
● Men/200 m ● After getting the worst of the collision between two electric carts that collided on the way into the stadium, Jamaica’s Andrew Hudson was advanced to the final in the men’s 200 m. He had to have some glass cleared out of his eye before the race and said he had blurred vision during, but finished a quite respectable fifth in 20.38. He was given lane one, and finished eighth.
The three Americans in the final were defending champ Lyles in six, 2022 Worlds silver winner Kenny Bednarek in seven and bronze medalist Erriyon Knighton in eight.
Off the gun, Lyles pushed hard and had the lead right away and stormed into the straight, running away from the field in the final 75 m, and won going away in 19.52 (-0.2).
Knighton and Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo – from lane nine – were 2-3 down the straight and finished that way, 19.75 to 19.81. Britain’s Zharnel Hughes and Bednarek were 4-5 in 20.02 and 20.07.
Lyles’ double in the 100 and 200 m is the first at the Worlds since Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in 2015 and the first by an American since Tyson Gay in 2007. He’s continuing to write history, even if well short of his world-record prediction prior to the meet; at 26, he’ll have lots more chances.
He can go for a third gold if the U.S. coaches place him on the 4×100 m final team as well (maybe Knighton, too)!
● Women/200 m ● Defending champ Jackson was in lane six, with the Americans – Gabby Thomas and Sha’Carri Richardson – in eight and nine.
Jackson was out like a shot from the gun, and was in the lead from 20 m and ran away with the race in 21.41 (+0.1), the second-fastest time in history. Only U.S. legend Florence Griffith-Joyner has run faster with her world record of 21.34 in 1988, and Jackson owns two of the top three times ever.
Behind her, the field was even, but Thomas emerged with 75 m to move into second, with Richardson following right behind to finish 2-3 in 21.81 and a lifetime best of 21.92.
NCAA champ Julien Alfred (LCA) was fourth in 22.05. Jackson ‘s back-to-back wins are the third in the history of the Worlds, with Allyson Felix of the U.S. winning in 2005-07-09, and Dafne Schippers (NED) in 2015-17.
Worth noting that the medal winners in both the men’s and women’s 200 m were in lanes six (gold), eight (silver) and nine (bronze).
● Men/Decathlon ● German Leo Neugebauer, who won the NCAA title for Texas and set the collegiate record holder at 8,836, was the favorite, but would he hold up at the end of a very long season?
Canadian Olympic champ Damian Warner, as expected, won the 100 m in 10.32, with Puerto Rico’s Ayden Owens-Delerme next-best at 10.43. Neugebauer got a lifetime best of 8.00 m (26-3) to lead the long jump, with Warner third-best at 7.77 m (25-6), and Neugebauer followed up with another lifetime best in the shot, leading everyone at 17.04 m (55-11), and taking a 2,908-2,812 edge over Warner into the high jump.
Neugebauer cleared 2.02 m (6-7 1/2) in the high jump, but Warner got through 2.05 m (6-8 3/4), a season’s best. Teammate Pierce LePage, last year’s Worlds silver medalist, cleared 2.08 m (6-9 3/4) and moved into a tie for second at 3,662, with Neugebauer at 3,730.
In the 400 m, Page won section two in 47.21, a seasonal best. Owens-Delerme won section three over American Harrison Williams, 46.44-46.52, with Warner at 47.86 and Neugebauer at 47.99. The German finished at 4,640 as the leader, with LePage at 4,610 and Warner third (4.578).
American Kyle Garland scored 4,382 and stands eighth, with Williams at 4,380 (ninth). Owens-Delerme stands sixth at 4,429.
France’s two-time World Champion and world-record holder Kevin Mayer felt a leg strain in the long jump and withdrew. American Zack Ziemek, last year’s bronze medalist, stood seventh after the high jump, but then withdrew and did not run the 400 m.
● Women/Triple Jump ● Three-time defending World Champion and world-record holder Yulimar Rojas (VEN) was the prohibitive favorite coming in, but Ukraine’s 2022 European Champion Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk sent a message with a 15.00 m (49-2 1/2) jump to take the lead. Rojas had a huge jump, but fouled in the first round.
Cuba’s Leyanis Perez Hernandez also got a big jump in the first round, jumping 14.96 m (49-1) to stand second, with Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts third at 14.87 m (48-9 1/2).
Rojas managed 14.33 m (47-0 1/4) in the second round, tying for the eighth and final qualifying spot, but advanced only on her second-best mark for the final. Then she had a huge jump in round four that was called a foul, and another foul in the fifth.
Ricketts was passed for third by a national record from Thea Lafond (DMA), at 14.90 m (48-10 3/4).
But in the sixth round, Rojas got a fair jump and didn’t have her usual explosion off the board, but was smooth in all three phases and took the lead at 15.08 m (49-5 3/4). Then she had to wait for the other seven jumpers to see if she had a fourth straight world title. She moved Bekh-Romanchuk to silver and Perez to bronze.
Rickets moved back to fourth at 14.92 m (48-11 1/2), and neither Perez or Bekh-Romanchuk could improve, and Rojas had her fourth world title. She now has eight World or Olympic titles: four outdoors, three indoors and the Tokyo Olympic title, as the greatest ever in the event.
American Keturah Orji also jumped 14.33 m for a non-qualifying ninth, and Jasmine Moore was 11th, at 13.54 m (44-5 1/4). Tori Franklin of the U.S. did not jump in the final.
● Women/Javelin ● Colombia’s Flor Denis Ruiz staggered the field with her first-round national record of 65.57 m (215-1), a national record; her prior best was 63.84 m (209-5)!
Favorite Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan managed 63.00 m to move into second (206-8) after three rounds, then was passed by Latvia’s Anete Kocina in round four at 63.18 m (207-3) for second in the fourth.
Then Australia’s Mackenzie Little, a two-time NCAA winner at Stanford, moved from fifth to second in the final round, at 63.38 m (207-11), taking Kitaguchi off the podium!
So Kitaguchi had one throw left, and ripped one that screamed out to 66.73 m (218-11) to take the lead! Neither Kocina or Ruiz could respond and Kitaguchi moved up from bronze last year to gold in Budapest.
Only a few surprises in Friday’s prelims, with the U.S. women barely getting their passes straight in the 4×100 m heats:
● Men/4×100 m ● The U.S. was in the first heat, with Christian Coleman leading off strongly, and handing to Fred Kerley, who forged a strong lead, passing to Brandon Carnes on the far turn. Carnes gave anchor J.T. Smith a nice lead, but it didn’t last.
The last pass was shaky, but Smith finally got it and was off and running. But Jamaica’s Rohan Watson and Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown were flying and Smith had to lean hard to win at the line, 37.67 to 37.68 to 37.71. The U.S. mark was the fastest time in the world this season.
Olympic champions Italy looked brilliant in heat two, passing brilliantly, and Filippo Tortu outran South Africa’s Akani Simbine to the line in a world-leading 37.65, with South Africa at 37.72. Britain qualified third in 38.07.
The U.S. line-up has to change for the final; surely Lyles will be added and perhaps Knighton as well?
● Men/Javelin ● Olympic champ Neeraj Chopra (IND) led the qualifying at 88.77 m (291-3), one of only three automatic qualifiers, along with Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan (86.79 m/284-9) and Jakub Vadlejch (CZE: 83.50 m/273011). The shock was that defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada managed only 78.49 m (257-6) and finished 16th. Kenyan Julius Yego, the 2015 winner, was 17th at 78.42 m (257-3) and also did not advance.
None of the Americans advanced: Capers Williamson finished 24th at 76.10 m (249-8), Curtis Thompson threw 74.21 m (243-5) for 30th and Ethan Dabbs had no legal mark.
● Women/800 m ● World leader Keely Hodgkinson (GBR) and U.S. champ Nia Akins ran at the front right away and passed 400 m in 58.36. Hodgkinson led right on through, with Noelle Yarigo (BEN) running second through 700 m, but then Akins pushed down the straight and moved up to challenge Hodgkinson at the finish, 1:59.48 to 1:59.61, a lifetime best.
American Raevyn Rogers lead the second semi, at 61.26 at the bell, then saw Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin take over on the turn. Down the straight, Rogers got the lead back, but Britain’s Jemma Reekie came on from fourth to win in 2:00.28, to 2:00.47 for Rogers. Groule-Toppin was third in 2:00.78 and did not advance.
Olympic and World Champion Athing Mu of the U.S. was the headliner in semi three and ran behind Kenya’s 2022 bronze medalist Mary Moraa and Uganda’s 2019 Worlds winner Halimah Nakaayi through the first lap in 57.36, the fastest so far. But Mu got tangled with South Africa’s Prudence Sekgodiso – who fell – and Mu twirled around to keep from falling. But she recovered and started moving on the leaders.
By the final turn, she was third again and then moved past Nakaayi on the straight to finish behind Moraa, 1:58.48 to 1:58.78. On to the final. Nakaayi was third and advanced in 1:59.89.
● Women/4×100 m ● Jamaica’s passing in heat one was textbook and four-time Olympic sprint champ Elaine Thompson-Herah flew down the back straight to pass – in the lead – to Shashalee Forbes, who gave Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce an advantage that she extended to win in 41.70. Great Britain was a clear second in 42.33, then Switzerland in 42.64.
In heat two, Tamari Davis crushed the field off the start and TeeTee Terry extended the lead on the second leg. Terry’s pass to Tamara Clark was late and Clark stutter-stepped to stay in the zone – barely – and then regained her momentum. Clark passed to Melissa Jefferson on the anchor and she crossed the line in 41.59. The Cote d’Ivoire set an African record of 41.90 in second and Italy set a national record of 42.14 in third.
● Women/High Jump ● There were 15 qualifiers to the final, all at 1.82 m (5-11 1/2), including back-to-back silver medalist Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR) and teammate Iryna Gerashchenko, Olympic silver winner Nicola Olyslagers (AUS) and 2019 Worlds bronze medalist Vashti Cunningham of the U.S.
Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko, the 2017 Worlds silver winner, cleared 1.80 m (5-10 3/4) and did not advance.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Stats ● The U.S. scored four more medals (1-2-1) on Friday, bringing its total to 23 (8-8-7) with two more days to go and maybe seven more available on the weekend.
Second in the medal count is Jamaica after Thursday’s explosion, with nine (3-3-3), followed by Ethiopia (6: 1-3-2), Great Britain (5:2-2-1) and Spain (4: 4-0-0). A total of 39 countries have won medals so far.
Because the main World Athletics Web site is still down, the placing table is not available; hopefully soon?
● Stories ● Thursday was an especially important day for Slovakian race walkers Dominik Cerny and Hana Burzalova. Cerny finished 19th overall in the men’s 35 km race in a lifetime best of 2:32:56, then waited at the finish line for Burzalova, who got a seasonal best of 3:02:47 to finish 28th.
But as soon as she crossed the line, Cerny was there, on one knee, to propose! And the answer was yes. World Athletics tweeted, “Love’s not a competition, but [Slovakia’s] Dominik Cerný and Hana Burzalova are winning today.”
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!