Tough things happen in qualifying, and that is what Stuart wants us to know about in column 2 on day 1. The heats are just tough, and the challenges in Doha can add up.
Positives from Day one
We approached the World Athletics Championships with some foreboding. Qatar was a small country, mainly desert. It would be fiendishly hot, expensive to get to and stay in and so on. Within minutes of the action getting under way, people were tweeting pictures of empty stands with the caption – this is what you get if you bring a sports event to Doha – or pity they forgot to tell anyone it was happening. The crowd was sparse at the beginning but grew as time went on.
The entire program consisted of heats but that is not to say that there was a lack of excitement. There were so many things about the day’s program that I loved.
With literally just one jump left in the triple jump qualifying competition, Omar Craddock was occupying the last qualifying place and on his way to the final. As his compatriot, Donald Scott, had only managed 16.47 and a foul, Craddock’s qualification did not seem in doubt. Not until Scott jumped 16.99 to claim that final spot for himself.
British 100m champion, Ojie Edoburun and American, Christopher Belcher each ran 10.23 in the first of six heats, finishing fifth and sixth. Then they waited anxiously to see if they could claim one of the six fastest times beyond the three automatic qualifiers. It went to the wire with Edoburun finishing 24th and claiming the final place while Belcher, who finished 8/1000s of a second behind Edoburun missing the semi-finals by that small margin.
While the purpose in a heat is simply to qualify for the next round, there was also a sense that Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Zharnel Hughes, Yohan Blake and Akani Simbine were demonstrating their credentials in winning their heats – Coleman in particular as the only one to run sub 10.
14 women cleared the bar at 1.92 in the high jump but only 12 could qualify for the final (unless all 14 were successful 1.94). It was a nail-biting jump-off.
Seven women successfully cleared 4.60 in the pole vault without a failure.
Then there was the moment when Braima Suncar Dabo of Guinea-Bissau helped an injured Jonathan Busby of Aruba across the finish line in the Men’s 5000 metres heats.
And going back to the 100m, there was a preliminary round with 30 athletes fighting for nine places. There were athletes from Anguilla, Belize, Bhutan, DR Congo, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Malawi, Mauritius, Nauru, Palau and Togo, to name but 12. There were eight PRs and two national records and one of the athletes not deemed good enough for a place in the main draw had the audacity to qualify for the semi-final. What a brilliant opportunity when these athletes from lesser countries, in terms of athletic prowess, for these athletes to be part of the opening session of the world championship.
Despite temperatures of over 100 at times in the city, the stadium was reduced to 75 by the fans and air-conditioning.