Day 1: Competition Begins

Report: Bob Snow (Pacific Islands) 

After several days of lengthy Congress deliberations, the time finally came for the “real” action in Doha. On Day One it started on the field, then on the track, and at midnight, on the roads.

The first track event of the championships was the Preliminary Round of the Men’s 100m.  There were eleven Pacific Island athletes participating in this event. 

As expected, the fastest in the group, and the only one of the eleven to qualify for Round One of the 100m, was Banuve Tabakaucoro (FIJ). Very impressed with the stadium announcer making a great effort to pronounce the name correctly!

The results for these athletes are as follows –

Banuve Tabakaucoro (FIJ)               10.56 q

Jonah Harris (NRU)                           11.01

Ronald Fotofili (TGA)                       11.06

Paul Ma’unikeni (SOL)                      11.29

Scott James Fiti (FSM)                      11.34

Bleu Perez (GUM)                              11.48

Tirioro Kamoriki Willie (KIR)          11.57

Nainoa Thompson (ASA)                  11.66

Adrian Ililau (PLW)                           11.67

Tikove Piira (COK)                            11.81

Don Motellang (MHL)                       11.89

Ninety minutes later Banuve was in Heat 1 of the Men’s 100m. He was up against a crack field, headed by South Africa’s Akani Simbine, who breezed to a 10.01 second win. Banuve finished in 8th, in the same time as he ran earlier – 10.56 seconds.

The emotional highlight of the day – for all those in the stadium – occurred in Heat 1 of the Men’s 5000. Two runners were double-lapped by the whole field.

One of them, Jonathan Busby from Aruba, looked to be in trouble and started to stagger and then collapse on the final lap. The runner from Guinea-Bisssau, Braima Suncar Dabo, who was behind Jonathan at this stage, then stopped to pick him up and helped him complete the final 300m of the race.

Jonathan was obviously disqualified, but it was wonderful to see such selfless sportsmanship and great humanity on display for the world to see. I will bet that it will be a major Facebook and YouTube sensation in the next week of the championship – and beyond. It has already been covered by newspapers all around the world. Braima Dabo deserves a special medal for his actions. 

Some reports say that both of the athletes involved were disqualified, but the official IAAF website results credits Braima with a position and a time – and no DQ.

Braima has put Guinea-Bissau on the world map, and has greatly enhanced his country’s reputation. Well done.

The much-heralded Women’s Marathon started at midnight. It was not meant to be staged if the temperature rose above 30.9 degrees. It started, even though the IAAF website said that the temperatures were between 30.0 and 32.7 degrees, with a humidity of 73%.  The conditions took their toll.

Winner was Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya in the time of 2:32:43, much slower than her personal best of 2:17:08, set in Dubai in January of this year. Dubai in January, in mid-winter, has magnificent weather and is perfect for long distance running. Less so Doha in September.

It was a large field of 68 runners, with 28 failing to finish the course. All three Ethiopians withdrew before the half way mark. That would happen very rarely.

Wonder how the 50km Walks will fare later tonight?

DOHA, QATAR – SEPTEMBER 27: A general view during the Men’s 5000 metres heats during day one of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on September 27, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)