This is Deji Ogeyinbgo’s feature on Day 1 of the World Indoors in Belgrade. Deji sent this to us at 1 am, Nigerian local time on Saturday morning. We are appreciative of his observations and sure hope that he gets a good night sleep.
Lemlem Hailu, Elle Purrier, Ejgayehu Taye, women’s 3000m, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
Birthday boy Miltiadis Tentoglou reigns supreme in the men’s Long Jump, Kambundji racing to the joint fourth-fastest time to claim the 60m gold and Lemlem Hailu taking the women’s 3000m
Miltiadis Tentoglou, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
The World Indoor championships got off to a great start on Day one in Belgrade after a four-year hiatus and we witnessed an upset over the women’s 60m, Greek “god” Miltiadis Tentoglou finally claiming a world title as we also build up to what would be an enthralling women’s 400m final on Saturday night.
Tentoglou looked at the part prior to Belgrade and he did deliver on the night
How does he feel to be a World Champion on your 24th birthday? Only Greek jumper Miltiadis Tentoglou can know exactly such a feeling. A perfect example of teamwork and plans exhibited to precision. That’s what Tentoglou encompasses. Unbeatable in Tokyo last summer for the Olympic title and he was unbeatable last night in Belgrade, the Serbian Capital.
The 23-year-old from Grevena, who is ranked world No.1 and joint second on this season’s world lists on 8.25m prior to tonight produced a World Lead of 6.55m to claim victory.
Had a massive no jump in the first round, and like he already is building a knack for, Tentoglou understands there is always another chance to hit that winning mark. And that’s what he produced with a big jump to get the victory. He adds the Gold to his three continental titles (two indoors, one outdoors) he already has, and also an Olympic Gold.
The win, however, was no formality, but he did just about enough to fend off competition from Swedish Jumper, Thobias Montler who reached 8.38 National Indoor record for Silver with United States Marquis Dendy who won the world indoor title on the home ground of Portland, Oregon, in 2016 settled for Bronze with a season’s best (SB) of 8.27m
Mujinga Kambundji pulled off a Gatlin in the women’s 60m
Who saw that Kambundji coming? Almost no one. Well, not until the finish line in Belgrade when she stormed to a world lead and joint fourth fastest time of 6.96s to win the women’s 60m.
For context, her PB stood at 7.03, run in 2018 when she clinched world indoor bronze, and her season’s best this year was just 0.02 off that. In the semis last night, she ran 7.08 to qualify for the final. Simply put, she wasn’t a favorite over the distance in the final.
That became a forgone story as the Swiss athlete pulled a “Gatlin” on us, one that saw the American claim 100m Gold at the World Championships in London in 2017 from the outside lane-defeating Usain Bolt in his swansong race.
Mujinga Kambundji did not believe that she had won the 60m! photo by Kathy Camara via Peacock TV
With all eyes on USA’s Mikiah Brisco and Poland’s Ewa Swoboda, who both won their respective semifinal races, most observers felt Kambundji wouldn’t be able to medal in the final.
Although she wasn’t first off the block, Kambundji would probably be glad that she wasn’t in the middle of the park where the real tussle was going on. US Marybeth Sant-Price also found herself in the mix. That paved the way for her to execute her race perfectly as she clocked a new PB in the process.
Brisco was the only other athlete to dip inside 7s, as she clocked a new PB of 6.99s to take Silver. There was a bit of reprieve for Sant-Price who stepped away from the sport after she was told by doctors to consider retirement after suffering a series of injuries, but she was able to equal her PB of 7.04 to take Bronze.
Can Bol or McPherson upset Miller-Uibo in the women’s 400m final after clocking the fastest two times in the semis?
It’s one of the biggest showdowns to be looked forward to on Day 2 of the World Indoor Championships. However, Day 1 gave us a glimpse of what to expect in the women’s 400m final. It had been billed as the Femke Bol vs Shaunae Miller-Uibo rivalry, but Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson might just have thrown her hat into the ring with her 51.26s SB clocking to win semis, with Bol coming in second.
Femke Bol and Stephanie McPherson dueling in 400m semi-finals, photo by Kathy Camara via Peacock TV
The second heat saw Uibo canter through to a 51.38s SB as she proved her class indoors again. Most importantly is if she can hold her nerves to win her first indoor title. This was Bol’s first loss over the indoor 400m in almost two years. Would it play in her mind going into the final on Saturday night? Can McPherson handle the pressure when the ovation is loudest?
So far Uibo seemed not to have broken a sweat on her way to the final, but you never can tell. Those that doubted her fitness having not raced indoors in two years have seen she can produce the goods. Whatever happens. We are in for a thrill at the stark arena.
Lazaro Martinez, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
PS: Elsewhere, Cuban triple jumper Lazaro Martinez won the first title of the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, defeating Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo as he registered a world-leading mark of 17.64m, while Lemlem Hailu maintained Ethiopia’s dominance on the women’s 3000m title as she produced a very fast final lap to win in 8:41.82.
The women’s Shot put wasn’t short of entertainment as Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo eventually won gold with an outrageous PB of 20.43m.