This is Dave Hunter’s final column on the Oregon 22 World Athletics Champs, which was held July 15-24, 2022.
Oregon22 World Athletics Champs,
WC / Day Ten: Kaleidoscope Of Golden Performances Cap World Championships
Amusan’s w100H double: 12.12 and 12:06w ; Mondo: 6.21 WR; USA men 4×4: 2:56.17; USA women 4×4: 3:17.79 and More!
July 24th, 2022
On the final day of these 2022 World Athletics Championships, an array of great performances took place on the track and on the field. It was a closing day of redemption for some, unexpected record-breaking for others, and the fulfillment of lifetime dreams for several.
The evening session of the final day of these world championships started off with a terrific and wholly unexpected performance in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, running in lane 4 of heat 1 of the semi-final, got off to a great start, attacked the hurdles with a vengeance, and raced all the way across the line for the win. The crowd roared, and Amusan was stunned when her winning performance was displayed on the Experience screen: a world record clocking of 12.12, rocketing her to the top of the current world leader board and the 100-meter hurdles all-time list. The new record holder, whose previous PR was 12.40, knew she had a hurdles final just hours away and was brief with her mixed zone comments. “God did it! It is a strong feeling.” said Amusan.” I wanted to get out and go. I did what I had to do. Looking forward to the finals.” In the final, the new world record holder had more to give, racing beautifully and cleanly as she hit the line first, clocking 12.06. A new record? Of sorts. The favoring wind was +2.5, over the allowable limit. Let’s just call it the fastest under all conditions. Jamaica’s Brittany Anderson (12.224) crossed next for the silver medal, followed by Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (12.229) for the bronze. “The goal was to come out and to win this gold; I just did it,” said the new champion and world record holder in the mixed zone. “Honestly, I believe in my abilities, but I was not expecting a world record at these championships.”
Germany’s Malaika Mihambo captured the gold medal in the women’s long jump. The new champion forged into the lead with a 4th attempt jump of 7.09m/23’2¼”, a mark she bettered on her final attempt when she sailed out in 7.12m/23’4 ½” – a season’s best. . Nigeria’s Ede Brume earned the silver medal with a season’s best of 7.02m/23’½” while Brazil’s Leticia Oro Melo had a first attempt lifetime best of 6.89m/22’7¼” to capture the bronze medal.
France’s Kevin Mayer never led in the decathlon until he uncorked a massive throw in the javelin – the 9th of 10 events. His best mark of 70.31m/230’8” vaulted Mayer into the lead. Mayer’s 4:41.44 in the metric mile pushed his final point total to 8816 for the victory and the gold medal. Canada’s Pierce Lepage finished 2nd with a point total of 8701 to capture the silver, while USA’s Zack “Double Z” Zeimek assembled a final point total of 8676 to earn the bronze.
Prior to the men’s 5000 meters final getting underway, spread across the start line were fifteen 5000-meter finalists, 7 of whom are ranked in the world leader top ten board, and 4 of whom are listed on the 5000-meter all-time world list. The race began with a quick pace as Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei moved into the lead with Gautamala’s Luis Grijalva and Grant Fisher tucked in behind. At one kilometer passed in 2:36, Kenya’s Jacob Krop joined the lead group as Cheptegei continued to set the pace. Nicholas Kipkorir, the world leader, was up front when the pack crossed 2K in 5:17 with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen in 4th and Fisher a close 6th and still in the hunt. As Kipkorir continued to lead, the tempo backed off as the pack hit 3K in 8:04. The pace remained casual as the race passed 4K in 10:46, with Krop now up in the lead as the athletes jockeyed to find their place for the endgame race that was sure to come. Shortly thereafter, the Norwegian, who made his move to the front, began tightening the screw as the pace picked up. At the bell, Ingebrigtsen led a pack of five, Krop, Fisher, Kipkorir, and Mohammed Ahmed. The Olympic 1500-meter champion was in complete control over the final lap, fending off all last-lap challengers to hit the line first in 13:09.24 to take the gold. Next came Krop (13:09.98) for the silver, followed by Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo (13:10.20), who got up for the bronze. Fisher, who had been boxed on the homestretch, finished 6th in 13:11.65 while his teammate Abdihamid Nur finished 12th in 13:19.62. Afterward, the winner, feeling redeemed after his second-place finish in the 1500-meter final, spoke with the media: “It feels amazing to win this gold,” declared the new champion. “This is already my fifth attempt to become a world champion outdoors and my third world championship. So finally, I became the world champion. Just an amazing feeling. It has been very difficult after 1500.”.
Anticipation was palpable as the 8 finalists swayed in their lanes prior to the start of the women’s 800-meter final. At the crack of the gun, first Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson and then Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji shared the early lead. At 200 meters passed in a quick 27.56, it was Hodgkinson up front, followed closely by USA’s Athing Mu and Kenya’s Mary Moraa. Welteji was in front with Mu right behind as the bell has rung at 57.09. At the top of the backstretch, Mu, the Olympic champion, made her first definitive move, spurting into the lead with 300 meters remaining. After rounding the curve and entering the homestretch, the Brit had a slim lead over the American. It was a tense battle to the line, with Mu crossing first to claim the gold in 1:56.30, a world leader and a lifetime best for the winner. The Brit was a half-step behind in 1:56.38, clinching the silver, while Moraa (1:56.71) closed well for the bronze. “It was a fast competition,” said Mu in the mixed zone. “I love competing against other fast women. I really just wanted to be consistent this year and to continue with the wins that I have been having. Today, it was a little bit harder for me, but I wanted to make sure that when I came on the track, I just do my best. The next goal is just to continue competing and hope to get faster and faster. But this is also the plan for the rest of the season, and I also think for the next year.”
The USA looked to be the cream of the crop in the final of the men’s 4×400 meter relay. In the previous day’s semi-final, the American men raced very well, clocking 2:58.96, the fastest time of the round. And in the final, the USA substituted Champion Allison and world champion gold medalist Michael Norman into the lineup in place of Trevor Bassitt and Vernon Norwood. But with the USA and its unenviable record of occasional relay team gaffes, nothing is certain until the last American athlete gets the stick across the line. The final got underway with reliable Elija Godwin blasting out of the blocks, charging into the lead, and laying down an opening leg of 44.28 as he passed the baton to the 400-meter world champion. Norman (43.64) raced around the curve and quickly cut to the rail, securing the pole position for the USA. Running third, Bryce Deadmon looked great, clocking 43.82 and giving the USA its biggest lead as he handed off to Champion Allison on the anchor. Allison brought it home in 44.43 to give the USA men the victory in 2:56.17, a world-leading time and #2 on the all-time world list. Afterward, Norman expressed his team’s sentiment to the media. “It has been a great championship overall for Team USA, especially on the men’s side after some disappointing championships,” said Norman. “It was like a turnaround. I think there is a huge potential for the whole team for the growth. The tide is coming in. and Maybe in the next 4-5-6 to years, it is going to be an amazing time for Team USA. I definitely felt the energy today. It was a great experience and my number one in terms of the interaction with the fans.”
The final track event of these championships was the women’s 4×400 meter relay. Could the American women, who rang up the top time of 3:23.38 in the prior day’s semi-final round, fend off a talented Jamaican team and deliver a gold medal-winning performance in today’s final? In preparation for the final, the USA lineup was juggled: Talitha Diggs was retained in the leadoff position while Abby Steiner, Britton Wilson, and Sydney McLaughlin replaced Allyson Felix, Kaylin Whitney, and Jaide Stepter Barnes. At the crack of the gun, USA’s Diggs (50.50) got the team off well with a reliable opening 400 meters as she passed the baton to Steiner. The youngster raced well (49.99), getting to the small cones on the backstretch before anyone else. But with Jamaica’s Janieve Russell charging hard from the outside and seeking to grab the rail, Steiner acted quickly in what likely was a most critical moment, pushing hard and fending off the Jamaican and denying her inside position on the backstretch. Russell ran a terrific 3rd leg (49.39) to extend the USA lead. And, with the crowd roaring, McLaughlin uncorked a monster anchor leg, clocking a stunning 47.91 to complete the win for the USA in a world-leading 3:17.79, just missing the world championship record.
In the mixed zone, Sydney McLaughlin offered an articulate summary of the women’s gold medal-winning effort as well as Team USA’s performance in general. “It was unreal. We had such a young team. All these girls are from teams out of college. It was put together at the last minute, and to see them all come together after such a long collegiate season, I am so grateful to be part of it.” explained the 400-meter hurdles world record holder. “I am the oldest on the team. I am so proud. This is the next generation of team USA stepping up to the plate. No better way to end the meet. Team USA is really like a family. We fight for the girl behind us. We are trying to achieve the same thing. We are very gifted. We compete against each other. We can come together and represent our country really well. Anything is possible. We have to continue pushing the boundaries of what we can do. I am grateful for this opportunity. I have become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and we have a bright future ahead of us.”
Although the track events were concluded, a much-anticipated final field event was still underway. No one really expected Mondo Duplantis, Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, to be seriously challenged in the men’s pole vault – and he wasn’t. The Swedish athlete vanquished the field at 6.00 meters, with USA’s Chris Nilsen (6.00m) earning the silver and the Philippines Earnest Obiena (5.94m) capturing the bronze; Duplantis, who had also cleared 6.00m, made a first attempt clearance 6.06 to clinch his gold medal and to set a new world championship record. That new record didn’t last long. To the delight of all in attendance, Duplantis then moved the bar up to the world record height of 6.21m/20’4½” – a height one centimeter above his own world record. After an initial miss, the crowd erupted when Mondo unfurled a majestic second attempt leap that sailed him over the bar to set the new record. Afterward, the new champion shared his thoughts with the media. “It is great. I cannot complain.,” said Duplantis. “Actually, I did not think about the record that much today. Usually, it is always somewhere in the back of my mind, but today I was really focused on the win, and I really wanted to win the gold so badly. It was the medal I was missing. So when I was on this height, it was like everything came together, and it happened from there.” / Dave Hunter /