Report: Bob Snow

There were two Islanders in action today. Led by the current Oceania Area Athletics Champion, Jeremy Dodson (SAM), we also had another competitor in the Men’s 200m heats. Joining Jeremy was Gregory Bradai (PYF).  They were up against some formidable athletes in their heats. Jeremy was, however, used to this level of competition having experienced it before in World Championships, Pan-Am Games and the Olympic Games. It has been eight years since he first represented the USA in the 200m at the World Championship in Daegu, and then Samoa since 2015.

Gregory Bradai was “lucky enough” to be in the same heat as Yohan Blake of Jamaica, and two others who have run sub-20 seconds this year – Alex Quinonez (ECU – 19.87 run in Lausanne, Switzerland in July)) and Alex Wilson (SUI – 19.98). They are part of the new group of emerging sprinters, who are vying to fill the gap left by the retiring Mr Usain! Interestingly Alex Wilson is Jamaican by birth. Changes in eligibility make the modern sport of Athletics endlessly fascinating.

The heat was won easily by the Ecuador runner, Quinonez in the time of 20.08 seconds, from Yohan “The Beast” Blake with a time of 20.23 seconds. Gregory Bradai was timed at 22.79 seconds.

Jeremy Dodson has had a long year, starting with the US Indoor Season and going through to the Outdoor Season in both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.  The standout in his heat was the American Kenneth Bednarek, who, while he is not a household name, he has run 19.82 seconds this year, in Hobbs, New Mexico in May of this year. He has also run an extremely windy 19.49 (+6.1), also at altitude (1,100m above sea level) in New Mexico.  Jeremy ran many of his fast 200m times at altitude in Colorado, USA, so let us see how they can go at sea level in the Khalifa Stadium.

In the race of the “altitude guys” Jeremy emerged as an easy winner. The heat was won by Kyle Greaux from Trinidad and Tobago in 20.19 and Jeremy came fourth in 20.60 seconds. Bendarex from the USA came 8th in 21.70 seconds! Jeremy’s time was not fast enough to progress to the next round.

All eyes were on Noah Lyles (USA) who had run a stunning 19.50 seconds this year. He is concentrating on the 200m as he feels he has something special to offer. He competed in the seventh and final heat. Noah cruised into 2nd in the heat to easily progress to the semi-finals. None of the runners revealed too much at this stage as the main contenders were all about doing the bare minimum to qualify.

The Women’s 100m semi-finals gave us a good indication of the favourites – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM –  10.81), Dina Asher-Smith (GBR 10.87) and Marie- Jose Ta Lou (CIV – 10.87) who look to be the likely medal winners. Elaine Thompson (JAM – 11.00) can not be overlooked as she is a very experienced campaigner. 

DOHA, QATAR – SEPTEMBER 29: Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica compete in the Women’s 100 Metres final during day three of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF)

The semi-final form did not lie. The gold, silver and bronze went to Shelly-Ann (10.71 WL), Dina (10.83 NR) and Marie Jose (10.90) – as expected. Also as expected Elaine (10.93) finished fourth. The big hope of the Netherlands, Dafne Schippers did not start.

The Men’s 800m semi-finals showed some very brave front-running. In the absence of any mega stars (Rudisha and Amos were not here), many thought that they had a chance to make their mark. Must admit the final’s field is made up of good competent runners, but lacking in any star power. Maybe they will surprise us all. Very impressed with the courageous run by Wesley Vazquez (PUR) who clocked 1:43.96 – close to his NR, which he set last month.

One looks forward to genuine top quality Mixed 4 x 400m teams to take to the track and see how far they can bring-down the relatively new world record. I think they can slice many seconds of the time that the USA recorded with their win in Doha – 3:09.34. They took three seconds off the WR that they created in the heats. They have only just begun.

Allyson Felix was part of the USA Team, and this brings her World Championships gold medal tally to 12 (individual and relays). She keeps on keeping on!

Great action on the field today.  In the Women’s Pole Vault it came down to a mighty tussle between Sandi Morris (USA) and Anzhelika Sidorova from the “clean-Russian team” (ANA – Authorised Neutral Athlete). Anzhelika and Sandi were in lock-step until the final height of 4.95m where Sandi had three fouls and Anzhelika cleared it on her third attempt. Katerini Stefanidi (GRE) came third with 4.85m.

The Men’s Triple Jump saw the USA’s Christian Taylor win the gold for the fourth time (the others being 2011, 2015 and 2017). His winning jump was 17.92m. In second place was Will Claye (USA) who collected his second silver medal in this event, after collecting two bronze medals in Daegu and Moscow. His distance was 17.74m. Collecting the bronze medal was Hugues-Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso with 17.66m. It was that country’s first ever medal at an IAAF World Championships. A very high quality jumps competition.

To bring the day’s competition to a conclusion, we headed out, once again, to the Corniche for the Women’s 20km Walk. Australia had two entries – Katie Hayward and Jemima Montag, and New Zealand had Alana Barber.  Alana won the silver medal in the 20km Walk in last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, and Jemima won the gold. In addition Jemima won the 10,000m track walk at the Oceania Area Championships in Townsville in June. Katie is the current Oceania 20km Race Walking champion, having achieved that honour in Adelaide in February of this year.

Photo Credit: Alisha Lovrich

You guessed it – the conditions were hot and humid. Goes without saying.

China prepared wonderfully well for the walks and scored a medal clean sweep in this event, led by Hong Liu in the time of 1:32:53. Jemima came 10th in 1:36:54, Alana in 27th position with 1:40:59 and Katie was one of three who were disqualified. Only three walkers failed to finish.

Oceania has a fine Race Walking tradition. This was driven home by the belated medal presentations to Jared Tallent (AUS) yesterday in the Khalifa Stadium.

Must admit I am very impressed with the air-conditioning system in use in the stadium. True, I have not been down on the field (or track) of play, but in the stands I have found the temperatures very pleasant. Some of my companions have complained a bit about how cool it is, and have put on a jacket.  Ah, modern technology can be wonderful.

There will be six gold medals decided tomorrow, starting with the Women’s High Jump and ending with one of the races of the championships – the Men’s 400m Hurdles with Rai Benjamin (USA), Karsten Warholm, (NOR) and out guy from the Asia-Pacific Team – Abderrahman Samba (QAT). Very much looking forward to all of the track and field action tomorrow.