We’re catching up on Sean MacPherson’s columns, this is his column on day 1 of the 2022 World Athletics Outdoor Championships, July 15-24, 2022.
By Sean MacPherson RunBlogRun
The 2022 World Championships have officially kicked off, and night one of action is complete at Hayward Field. Day one gave us just a taste of what’s to come over the next nine days, but there were still some takeaways to be had.
Fred Kerley is on a mission. Silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100 meters last year, it is clear that the 27-year-old sprinter wants more. Kerley looked rather effortless en route to a time of 9.79, the fastest heat time ever at a major championship. This time is also faster than any athlete who ran at the Tokyo Olympics last year. I think it’s safe to say that on Saturday, Kerley is due to top his personal best of 9.76 and potentially do even more. The American record is 9.69, and the world record is 9.58; I think that will be relevant information to know tomorrow. Until then, we can marvel at the consistency that Kerley has shown. At the U.S. Championships, Kerley ran times of 9.83, 9.77, and 9.76 to win the American title. Kerley does not fool around, even in prelims. I can’t wait to see what he can do in the semis and the final on Saturday.
Farewell, Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix ran the last race of her storied career at Hayward Field on Friday night. She collected her 19th medal at a World Championships as the mixed 4×400 relay squad finished third. Felix broke a record by collecting a medal at an eighth separate World Championships. The Hayward Field crowd went ballistic when Allyson Felix ran around the oval one last time before hanging up the spikes. Afterwards, her mixed relay teammates were solely asked questions about Felix. “It feels like we’re part of history to be with her,” said teammate Elija Godwin, “I really just want my picture with her.” Even though the team was outkicked by the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands over the final stretch, Felix cherished the final moment of her career. When asked about her favorite moment of her long and illustrious career, she said, “I’ll go with tonight. To be able to come here in front of a home crowd is something I’ve always wanted.”
Speaking of that team
It’s a disappointing start to the World Championships for the American team when the clear favorite in the mixed relay finishes with bronze. The U.S. team was either in lead or in touch with the lead the entire race. Elija Godwin and Vernon Norwood ran the fastest splits on anyone in the race. Still, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands sprinted past the U.S. over the final 50 meters as Kennedy Simon tied up. Now, questions will be asked about why USATF didn’t field a team with faster athletes for this event. The four members of this team were 4th, 6th, 5th, and 5th, respectively in the 400 meters at the U.S. Championships. There’s no doubt that the U.S. has the deepest and most talented pool out of anybody, but the question is: why didn’t they put their best out there to win gold?. Maybe the top athletes chose to save their legs, or maybe USATF got overconfident and thought it could still win by putting lesser athletes out there. Either way, it wasn’t the start that the U.S. was looking for in a meet that is on home soil for the first time ever.
Friday night was the most full that Hayward Field has been in its new form. While it wasn’t completely full, it was certainly a good sign for the rest of the event. No disrespect to the mixed relay, but the future nights of the World Championships will each feature at least one marquee event and produce more entertainment than the first night did. Hopefully, we will see the place packed shoulder-to-shoulder throughout this ten-day event.