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≡ WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
Session 9 ~ Tuesday, 19 July 2022
Day five of the World Athletics Championships in Eugene had a short program of seven events, but had no lack of drama.
Tense competitions in the women’s high jump and men’s discus saw Eleanor Patterson of Australia and Kristjian Ceh of Slovenia victorious ahead of their better-known competitors, but no one was ready for the shock of the men’s 1,500 m and then what happened in the second-fastest 400 m hurdles race of all time:
● Men/400 m Hurdles ● The titanic showdown between Olympic champ Karsten Warholm (NOR), American silver winner Rai Benjamin and Tokyo bronze medalist Alison Dos Santos delivered again. Benjamin drew lane three, with Warholm in front of him in four and Dos Santos in six.
As expected, Warholm blasted off from the start, taking the lead, but with Dos Santos close and Benjamin trailing. Warholm and Dos Santos were clear of the field at 200 m, but Benjamin poured it on around the turn and got into contention at the eighth hurdle and entering the straight.
Warholm, however, blew up, betrayed by his lack of training and racing due to injury and faded badly on the straight, ending up seventh in 48.42. Meanwhile, Benjamin was chasing Dos Santos, who did not fade and maintained a steady rhythm right to the line to win in the third-fastest time in history, 46.29. Benjamin was second – as in Tokyo – in 46.89, the no. 10 performance ever. This was not an upset; Dos Santos had been the best all year and proved it when given the chance. This isn’t over: there’s the Budapest Worlds in 2023 and Paris in 2024.
With Warholm out of the picture, American Trevor Bassitt dueled with France’s Wilfried Happio for the bronze and won it at 47.39 to 47.41, a massive personal best. American Khallifah Rosser finished fifth in 47.88.
● Men/1,500 m ● Olympic champ Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway and defending champ Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya were expected to face off in another epic battle and it looked that way from the start.
World leader Abel Kipsang (KEN) took the lead and set a fast pace at 55.5 for the first 400 m, and Ingebrigtsen did not dawdle at the back as he often does, moving to the lead with two laps to go. Cheruiyot and Kipsang were close by, as were Britain’s Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman.
At the bell, Ingebrigtsen, Cheruiyot, Wightman, Kipsang and Kerr were close and pushing the pace. But it was Wightman pushing hardest on the backstraight, passing Cheruiyot and then challenging Ingebrigtsen on the far turn and getting to the lead into the straight. The Norwegian was game, but Wightman was not to be denied and won in the shock of the meet – so far – in a world-leading and personal best of 3:29.23. Ingebrightsen was disappointed in second in 3:29.47, with Spain’s Mohamed Katir passing the Kenyans on the straight for the bronze in 3:29.90 and teammate Mario Garcia fourth in 3:30.20.
Cheruiyot faded to sixth (3:30.69) and Kipsang was seventh in 3:31.21. American Josh Thompson was 12th in 3:35.57.
This was a shock, make no mistake. Wightman was the 2018 European bronze medalist and fifth at the 2019 Worlds, but Ingebrigtsen was considered almost unbeatable. Not in Eugene in 2022.
● Men/Discus ● After an uneventful first round, co-favorite Ceh unloaded, reaching 69.02 m (226-5) to take the lead and then exploded to a World Championships meet record of 71.13 m (233-4) in round three. Could anyone match him?
Through three rounds, Lithuania’s Mykolas Alekna and Andrius Gudzius – the 2017 World Champion – were 2-3 at 67.87 m (222-8)) and 67.31 m (220-10). Olympic champ Daniel Stahl of Sweden was fifth at 66.59 m (218-5).
Gudzius improved in round four to 67.55 m (221-7) and then Alekna erupted to 69.27 m (227-3) to strengthen his grip on second. Stahl moved up to fourth at 67.10 m (220-2), but could do no better. Ceh, just 23, put an exclamation point on his world title with a 70.51 m (231-4) bomb in round five, finishing with four of the top five throws in the competition.
Alekna, just 19, was the NCAA runner-up for Cal in June and is now the Worlds silver medalist in July. Gudzius won his second career Worlds medal and Lithuania celebrated an unexpected 2-3. American Sam Mattis managed only 63.19 m (207-3) and finished 11th.
● Women/High Jump ● Ten got over 1.93 m (6-4) and eight cleared 1.96 m (6-5), but the sorting started at 1.98 m (6-6), when the Ukrainian stars Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Iryna Gerashchenko sailed over on their first tries, as did Italy’s Elena Vallortigara. It took three tries for Patterson, the World Indoor runner-up, to join them.
At 2.00 m (6-6 3/4), Vallortigara took the lead with a first-time clearance, but the other three all cleared on their second tries. Patterson then took over, clearing 2.02 m (6-7 1/2), matched by Mahuchikh on her second try, but Vallortigara and Gerashchenko missed three times. Vallortigara took the bronze thanks to her perfect record through 2.00 m.
The bar was raised to 2.04 m (6-8 1/4), but neither Patterson or Mahuchikh could clear, leaving Patterson moving up from silver at the World Indoors to the top of the podium, and Mahuchikh winning the silver, as she did in Doha in 2019.
● Men/200 m semis ● Dominican star Alexander Ogando – already a gold medalist on the Mixed 4×400 m – held off the late-finishing Joseph Fahnbulleh (LBA), 19.91-19.92 (wind: -0.1 m/s). World 100 m champ Fred Kerley of the U.S. was gritting his teeth on the straight and said he suffered a cramp on the turn, finishing sixth in 20.68. He said he will be fine for the 4×100 m.
Semi two saw defending champion Noah Lyles of the U.S. run an excellent turn – especially for him – and came into the straight on the lead and held it to win in 19.63 (+1.1), the equal-third-fastest time of the year. Teammate (and Olympic silver winner) Kenny Bednarek held off Jereem Richards (TTO), 19.84-19.86 for second.
Teen star Erriyon Knighton (USA) blasted the turn and won easily in 19.77 (+0.3), with Canada’s Aaron Brown second in 20.10. The Lyles-Knighton showdown is on and an American sweep is a possibility on Thursday night.
● Women/200 m semis ● World leader Shericka Jackson (JAM) cruised home after leading off the turn and won in a sizzling – frightening, really – 21.67 (+2.0), a time no one else has run this year and the no. 12 performance ever! Niger’s Aminatou Seyni, who made a late charge in the heats, did it again, coming from fourth to second in the last 40 m in 22.04, followed by Mujinga Kambundji (SUI: 22.05 national record) and American Jenna Prandini (22.08).
Rio and Tokyo Olympic champ Elaine Thompson-Herah and defending champ Dina Asher-Smith (GBR) were in semi two, and Thompson-Herah led off the turn, with Asher-Smith challenging down the straight, but American Tamara Clark powered to the tape and passed both in the final 10 m, in 21.95, to season’s bests of 21.96 for Asher-Smith and 21.97 for Thompson-Herah (+1.4). Wow!
Five-time World 100 m Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stormed the turn and ran away with heat three over American Abby Steiner, 21.82 (season’s best, no. 3 in 2022) to 22.15 (-0.1). All three Jamaicans made the final, as did Clark and Steiner. Prandini missed by 0.03.
● Women/400 m Hurdles heats ● World-record holder Sydney McLaughlin of the U.S. ran a controlled 53.95 to win the first heat, trailed by Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova (54.93), who got a warm welcome from the crowd. American Shamier Little, like McLaughlin, had lane eight in the first round and ran hard from the start, leading after 300 m, but was passed by Tokyo fourth-placer Janieve Russell (JAM), who won in 54.52. Little was a clear second in 54.77.
Dutch star Femke Bol, the Tokyo bronze medalist, was also in lane eight for heat three and won easily in 53.90. Rio 2016 gold medalist and former world-record holder Dalilah Muhammad (USA) won heat four in 54.45, challenged on the home straight by Jamaica’s Shiann Salmon (54.91). The fourth American, NCAA champ Britton Wilson, came on over the final turn and down the straight to win heat five in 54.54. The semis are on Wednesday.
After five days, the U.S. now has 18 medals (6-5-7) to six each for Ethiopia (3-3-0) and Kenya (1-3-2). On the placing table, a points-scoring program for places 1-8, the U.S. dominance is now 175-69 over Ethiopia, with Kenya at 63, Jamaica at 42 and Poland at 41.
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