The sixth night of these World championships were stunning. They also tell me that I have only three more nights to worship at the sanctuary of track & field in these championships. I will be sad when they end…
Allyson Felix took the 400 meters out crazy fast, and in that, ended the chances of her toughest rival, Christine Ohuruoghu, she of the perfect final straight running, who ran out of gas. Felix floated from 200m to 300m, then, put on the gas and ran away from the field in a PB of 49.26.
On a fabulous evening where four world champions returned to the top of the global pile at the Bird’s Nest stadium, it was triple jumper Christian Taylor who stole the limelight from fellow Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix as he produced the second greatest leap in triple jump history.
As he headed into the final round Leading by just 8cm from Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo in their much anticipated battle, Taylor launched himself down the runway at a fierce pace before hitting the board with room to spare. He then floated in the air for what seemed like an eternity before landing in the pit almost upright, raising his hands in the air in celebration, as the crowd gasped in shock, with both knowing he had achieved something truly special. All they needed now was confirmation on the scoreboard… The result a magnificent 18.21m, just 8cm off Jonathan Edward’s world record. After only breaking 18 metres for the first time earlier in the season, Taylor was now on a new level entirely.
Though Pichardo, would improve to 17.73m it wasn’t to be his night and as the American cleared the barrier and went into the crowd to receive congratulations on his jump and gold medal, the Cuban was left to settle with silver. There was to be final round glory for Portugal’s Nelson Evora, too, 2008 Olympic champion, launched out to a SB 17.52 with his last jump to steal bronze away from USA’s Omar Craddock.
Describing his emotions after become the second best jumper in history Taylor said: “I am so delighted. This track is really special. I did a new PB and a world lead and was so close to the world record – this is what championships are all about. I am climbing up the all-time list. It is exciting for me that there is still more to come. So, I will keep working.”
On the track, Usain Bolt took another momentous victory as he overcame the challenge of Justin Gatlin once more, to win his fourth consecutive world 200m title to take his tally to 10 golds in total. After his marginal victory in the 100m, this performance was far more vintage Bolt.
Starting the quickest, he was already up on his rival, two lanes to his left as they came round the bend, though Gatlin looked to be coming back towards him in the strait, the Jamaican was able to pull away from his rival in the final quarter to win comfortably in 19.55. Finishing almost .2 of a second ahead of his American adversary. Completing the podium with a surprise third was South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana who a national record 19.87 to narrowly out lean 2009 silver medallist Alonso Edward of Panama.
An upbeat Bolt said afterwards “I am just happy. I told you guys that I would do it. There was no doubt. I was not really focused on time. I knew I was not in the shape for a world record. When it comes to the 200m, I am a different person, I was beaten there only once.”
Though he now lies just one gold away from winning a historic five titles in the same event, the Olympic champion gave his biggest hint yet that he might not even make it to London 2017: “After Rio my sponsor wants me to do one more year, but my coach said ‘listen to me, if you’re not going to be serious about going to the world championships in London then you shouldn’t do it.'” he said. “So it’s all about how I feel after Rio, if I can give my all for one more season, if I’m going to be focused or determined then I will be determined and give it my all.”
As for what he is capable of next year, Bolt said that he believes he can still break WR’s if he can have a full season of training next year and insists he is still dreams of breaking 19 seconds.
If he can get one season with no issues and no problems, then I know I can get in the best shape I need to be in when it comes to Rio.” he said.
Just as Bolt is undoubtably the king of athletics, Felix is the Queen, as was displayed on Thursday evening as she took herself ever closer to the realm of demigod powering her way to yet another world title, winning her first 400m title in an awesome personal best of 49.26 seconds.
The American legend now holds a magnificent nine world championship golds and could still join Bolt in double figures by the end of the championship with success in the relays.
Her time lead the way for lifetime bests for all of the top four as Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller finished runner-up in 49.67 and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson bronze in 49.99.
In terms of the race its self the result never really seemed in doubt, especially after Felix exploded out of the blocks getting into her full stride by the time she hit the back strait. Though reigning Christine Ohorugou also got out well and began to close the gap, to look like her greatest challenger with little between them as they hit the half way point. It would be a move that the Brit would pay for, and she soon started to fade, unable to even produce her trade mark kick, ultimately finishing last. At the same point that her rival faded, Felix pulled away once more and this time it would be decisive, despite the best efforts of Bahamas Shaunae Miller, who ran an excellent last 200m.
Two years ago Felix’s championships ended in agony as she was carried away on a stretcher in the final of the 200m after pulling her hamstring during the race. There was to be no pain this time out. Only delirium.
Hammer throw world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk crowned her brilliant season by winning her second world titles with the best series of throws in history.
Earlier this year the Pole became the first women ever to go over 80m and she did so twice again this evening, in a magical spell that saw her achieve 4 consecutive attempts over 78 meters. The worst of which would have won her gold in all but one of the previous finals. Her winning mark came at the 4th round when she threw 80.85.
Behind her, home favourite Wenxiu Zhang won silver and France’s Alexandra Tavernier bronze.
Before the medals were won on the track the crowd were treated to three fabulous event semi-finals
Kicking off the evening’s action Olympic champion Aries Merritt reiterated his position as a major contender to win world 110 metre hurdle gold by coming through to the final as the fastest qualifier, having run a season’s best 13.08 seconds. A medal of any colour would be his first at a world championship. Just behind Merrit in the overall standings was Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov, winner of heat 1 in 13.09, while France’s Dimitri Bascou beat reigning champion David Oliver to win the third race in a personal best 13.16.
Dina-Asher Smith’s incredible world championship debut continued as she lowered her personal best by a tenth of a second to 22.12 to fly through to the final of the 200m as the fastest qualifier, just a year after she became world junior champion. Despite running in the same heat as Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and America’s Jeneba Tarmoh, Asher-Smith breezed through her race leave both athletes for dust after pulling away at the bend. Her time was just .02 of a second off the British record.
She must now be considered a serious contender to win the gold medal in the final, though she will face a serious challenge from both other semi-final winners Dafne Schippers (22.36) and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (22.13).
In the women’s 800m it took some huge personal bests to make the final of the two lap event, as three high class semi-finals were all won in blanket finishes in times under 1:59.00 with three women breaking that barrier and still failing to make the final.
Such was the quality of the qualifying standards, that a PB 1:58.50 was not enough to see Siffan Hassan, through to the final as the Dutchwoman ran the fastest time never to make a final.
Both Morocco’s Rababe Arafi and Great Britain’s Shelayna Oskan Clarke broke 2 minutes for the first time when winning their semi-finals in 1:58.55 and 1:58.86 respectively, before the Pan Am Games champion Melissa Bishop, took exactly two seconds off her PB to claim the third semi in a new Canadian record of 1:57.52. Behind Bishop all eight competitors crossed the line in under two minutes for the first time ever at this stage of a competition.