Written by Bob Snow – Oceania Athletics Life Member.

This is the last of a 3 part review of the World Championships. Today, we bring you the final 3 days.

Day Eight

Oceania has waited for the return of a fully healthy Sally Pearson (AUS) for a long time. The former Olympic and World Champion has been gradually reclaiming her place on the world stage in recent months. She clearly demonstrated that she is in good form with an emphatic win in her 100m Hurdles heat in the morning (12.72 seconds) over long-term rival Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA) and followed it up with an even more emphatic win in her semi-final (12.53 seconds), to be the fastest qualifier for the final. Michelle Jenneke (AUS) ran 13.25 seconds in her semi, and did not progress to the final.

What is obvious at these championships, is that it is late season form that decides who will win the medals, and so many of the world’s top athletes have left their best performances behind earlier in the year. Peaking at the right time is a science – or as many say, an art. We have to wait till tomorrow to see if Sally has managed to make the perfect comeback. In any event she has been quite spectacular so far.

Dani Stevens (AUS) qualified with the 3rd best throw (65.56m) in the Women’s Discus. Competing as Dani Samuels, she won the gold medal in the DT in World Championships in Berlin in 2009. She was 4th in the Rio Olympics.

Britney Reese (USA) narrowly won the Women’s Long jump with a leap of  7.02m (+0.1) over Darya Klishina (ANA) with 7.00m (-0.3). Brooke Stratton (AUS) finished in 6th position with 6.67m (-0.9). Darya, from Russia, was cleared to compete in London as a neutral athlete. She peaked at the right time with a season’s best jump. Brittney has won the World Championships gold (both indoors and outdoors) seven times, and won the gold in the London Olympics.

The Men’s Hammer Throw was won by Pawel Fajdek (POL) with a throw of 79.81m, with three of his throws being over 79m.

A complete upset occurred in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase with the USA taking the gold and the silver. Emma Coburn (9:02.58) won from Courtney Frerichs (9:03.77).  The much more favoured Kenyans, and Kenyan-born athletes from Bahrain, finished in positions 3-4-5-6-8. Genevieve Lacaze (AUS) finished in 12th position in 9:26.25.

At the end of the first day of the Decathlon, Cedric Dubler (AUS) was in 18th position with a score of 4070 points.

The Men’s 1500m semis saw the fastest from the heats – Luke Mathews (AUS) -finish in 18th position overall, and not make it through to the final. Luke found himself in the first, and slower, heat and just did not have the sprint finish required to advance. Tactics play a big part in these races.  Nick Willis (NZL) did make it to yet another global final in this event with a time of 3:38.68.

We hope that the final will be a good race from the start, and not the usual sit and kick with a disappointingly slow time. Asbel Kiprop (KEN) has won the gold at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships. Can he do it again? He won the gold in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Asbel Kiprop hopes for a fast time. The ultra-slow Rio pace certainly did not suit him.

The Women’s 800m, not surprisingly, had South Africa’s Caster Semenya with the fastest time – 1:58.90.  Will we see her go all out for a fast time, or just use her great strength and speed to come from the back of the field to take gold. The form guide has not been so good in London 2017 in predicting the winners.

The Women’s 200m, however, finished pretty much as expected with the big three taking the medals. Dafne Schippers (NED) successfully defended her title in a time of 22.05 (+0.8) from Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CIV) and Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH). No Jamaicans in this final !

Day Nine

With six finals to be staged today, the excitement level was raised a notch or two. The heats of both the relays, and the finals for the 4 x 100m were sure to lead to more sensations. They always do.

Australia had two relay teams in action. In the Men’s 4 x 100m, they finished in 12 position overall with a season’s best time of 38.88 seconds. The Women’s 4 x 400m finished in 10th position in the time of 3:28.02 – and missed making the final by less than half a second. They did, however, run a season’s best time.

Australia can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Sally Pearson completed a stunning comeback to win the gold medal narrowly from Dawn Harper Nelson (USA) – 12.59 to 12.63. World Record holder, Kendra Harrison (USA) was out of the medals with a 4th position (12.74), despite having won more than 20 consecutive finals this year. Sally peaked perfectly to claim a third global gold after her World Champs win in 2011, and the gold in the 2012 London Olympics. It is a track she will remember for the rest of her life.

Sally’s flawless technique put pressure on her rivals as she had a narrow, but decisive win, over Dawn Harper Nelson (who finished in 2nd position behind Sally on this same track in the London Olympics). It was fitting to see the gold medal being presented by the President of Oceania Athletics, Geoffrey Gardner.

Russia’s Maria Lasitskene, competing for the neutral team, continued her winning ways, to collect the gold in the High Jump with 2.03m, just ahead of Yuliia Levchenko (UKR) with a height of 2.01m.

After dominating early season form with a world-leading throw of 93.90m in Doha in May, Thomas Rohler (GER) could only manage 4th in the Men’s Javelin with a throw of 88.26m. Fellow German competitor, Johannes Vetter won the gold with a throw of 89.89m, from two Czech athletes.

In his final major track race, Sir Mo Farah found that his final lap sprint was not good enough this time. In a slow tactical race, Muktar Edris (ETH)  managed to win the final lap sprint to win 13:32.19 to Mo’s 13:33.22 with Paul Chelimo (USA) in third in 13:33.30.  Patrick Tiernan (AUS) was 11th in 13:40.01.

Surely this is the only time in a major 5000m race when Jamaica managed to finish ahead of Kenya!

The Decathlon came to a conclusion today, with the clear winner, Kevin Mayer (FRA) amassing 8768 points – the best in the world in 2017. He was well clear of the two German runners-up – Rico Freimuth (8564 points) and Kai Kasmirek (8488 points).  Australia’s Cedric Dubler maintained his 18th position for much of the competition to complete the ten-discipline event with 7728 points.

As expected, the 4 x 100m Relay Finals provided drama in abundance.  In the Women’s event, the winner (as expected) was the USA quartet of Brown, Felix, Akinosun and Bowie ran a world leading time of 41.82 seconds, ahead of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (42.12) and Jamaica (42.19).

The fastest qualifier in the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay was the USA, which recorded a world leading time of 37.70 seconds, marginally ahead of GB &NI with 37.76 seconds. Jamaica were the third fastest with 37.95 seconds, and expected to seriously challenge for Usain Bolt’s last global race.

In the final, Great Britain and Northern Ireland took off like a rocket on their fist leg, and held their position near the front of the field. A great bend run put them marginally in front and they maintained that position to the tape, winning in a WL time of 37.47 seconds. The quartet of Ujah, Gemili, Talbot and Mitchell-Blake brought the house down with their defeat of the USA (2nd in 37.52) and Japan (3rd in 38.04).

Usain Bolt running the anchor leg for Jamaica, took the baton in third place and looked as though he could possibly challenge for the gold, but developed a cramp in his leg halfway down the home straight, fell to the ground, with Jamaica not finishing the race. Disappointing end to Usain’s career, but it will appear as only a very minor footnote to his overall stellar career.

Day Ten

With eleven finals today, it is non-stop action, with four walking events in the morning and seven track and field events in the evening, concluding with the exciting 4 x 400m Relays.

First events of the day were the 50km Walks – this time for Women as well as Men. The winner of the Men’s event was Yohann Diniz (FRA) in a Championship Record time of 3:33:12, to win very comfortably over Hirooki Arai (JPN) with 3:41.17.  The Women’s event had seven starters and only four finished.  Ines Henriques (POR) won in a new World Record Time of 4::05:56 to go home USD160,000 richer, getting the USD60,000 for the win and a USD100,000 bonus for the WR.

The Women’s 50km Walk is a new event to global competition, and the IAAF and IOC will carefully watch how it grows in importance and stature in ensuing years to see if it becomes a fixture in our sport, and take us one step closer to genuine gender equity. It is only the Decathlon that now is to be introduced to the Women’s programme to have the same events on offer for Men and Women.

The 20km Walks saw the Women’s event won by Jiayu Yang (CHN) in 1:26:18, and the Men’s event by Eider Arevalo (COL) in 1:18:53, two seconds ahead of the Russian athlete Sergei Shirobokov (ANA) competing for the neutral team. Australia’s Dane Bird-Smith walked to a PB of 1:19:28 to finish in 6th position.

The evening session brought an avalanche of gold, silver, bronze, PB’s, NR’s, AR’s, SB’s and Championship Records. It was a fitting finale to a World Championships that brought us ten days of excitement, upsets, surprises, and much sentiment.

The Men’s High Jump was won by Qatar’s  Mutaz Essa Barshim with a height of 2.35m, after clearing every height up to 2.35m on his first attempt. I am sure that he is now looking forward to competing on home soil in two years’ time.

As expected, Sandra Perkovic (CRO) won the Women’s Discus Throw with a distance of 70.31m. What was not expected was that she would be seriously challenged by the silver medalist, who finished only 67cm behind her. That thrower was Australia’s Dani Stevens who broke the Australian NR, and the Oceania Area Record with a throw of 69.64m.  Dani, as a 21-year-old won the World Championship in Berlin in 2009. She is still young by throwing standards and can look forward to future success in the years ahead. Sandra is only 27 years of age, so the duel between these two outstanding throwers will continue to Doha (2019), Eugene (2021) and beyond.

The dominance of Almaz Ayana (ETH) over the track distance events has been evident for the past two years. It was therefore a slight surprise when she came only second in the 5000m Final to Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. Hellen ran 14:34.86 to finish well ahead of Almaz who record the time of 14:40.35. Towards the end of the event it was a two-woman race, but when Hellen Obiri unleashed a 61-second final lap it was all over.

The Women’s 800m followed the form guide with Caster Semenya (RSA) running the fastest time in 2017 – 1:55.16 – to defeat Francine Niyonsaba (BDI) with 1:55.92.  It was a fast race with the first five being under 1:58, and all of the finalists breaking 2:00 minutes.

The Men’s 1500m was run at a good pace, and not the super-slow sit and kick that is sometimes seen. Asbel Kiprop (KEN) could not make it four in a row, when he finished in only 9th position. It was a Kenyan who won, however, Elijah Manangoi (3:33.61), to improve on his silver medal from Beijing (2015) and his failure to progress beyond the heats in Rio 2016. Fellow Kenyan, Timothy Cheruiyot finished in 2nd position with 3:33.99.  New Zealand’s Nick Willis came 8th  in 3:36.82.  It was the fastest Word Championship 1500m time since Hicham El Guerrouj in 2003. The last place time was 3:38.28 – twelve seconds faster than the winning time in Rio.

And then to the 4 x 400m Relays. As always the USA headed the form guide and were favourites to take both races.

The Women’s 4 x 400m Relay went to expectations, and was duly won by the US quartet of Hayes, Felix, Wimbley & Francis in the world leading time of 3:19.02, from Great Britain & Northern Ireland with a time of 3:25.00 – a huge win.

The men’s event saw an upset with the USA coming in second (2:58.61), to be beaten by Trinidad & Tobago, who ran a world leading 2:58.12 to shock the favourites. The runners were Solomon, Richards, Cedenio & Gordon.  T’n’T came 2nd in the 2015 Beijing World Championships, so they have good form with a solid group of experienced 400m runners.

You have to go all the way back to Edmonton in 2001 when the Bahamas beat the USA across the line. Great Britain & N.I. also fondly remembers the time when Kriss Akabusi passed the US runner on the anchor leg to win the gold in the 1991 IAAF Championships in Tokyo. The USA can be beaten – but not often. The 4 x 400m Relay is always a fantastic way to end a great Athletics meet – and this has been one of the best.

Heartening to see the stands full to overflowing for most of the sessions. The huge crowds significantly improve the atmosphere and the overall spectacle. Well done London.

With the conclusion of an extremely successful 2017 IAAF World Championships, we can now look forward to the next edition of the peak competition of our sport, at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar from the 28th September – 6th October, 2019. We can guarantee that the temperatures will be much higher and the likelihood of rain quite small.  Doha’s annual rainfall is approximately 75mm / 3 inches ! During the period of the Championships the average low temperatures are expected to be about 26 degrees C, and the average high temps about 37 degrees C.

The full results of all of the events from the 2017 IAAF World Championships can be found on the website –  www.iaaf.org

 

 

 

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