The women’s 100 meters was won by Germany’s Gina Luckenkemper, who is coached by Lance Brauman of PURE Athletics in Claremont, Florida. Gina had taken bronze and silver in Euro Champs in the past; this year, she fought for the 100-meter title, each step having meaning.
The two 100m finals were the climax of a high-quality evening that saw legends Jacob Ingebrigtsen and Sandra Perkovic winning. Shaunae Miller-Uibo was present, as she told the crowd, enjoying a rare opportunity to see Mr. Uibo compete. The action was viewed by significantly the largest crowd of the week. That was great, except when most of them were in front of me in the line for the subway!
The way the 100s were organized, there was a preliminary round, from which the top athletes were exempt, followed by semi-finals and finals on Tuesday evening. This meant that for the top performers, it all started tonight, but no easy prelim or chance to try out the track.
There were DQs in the semi-finals for Milana Irnanic and Mallory Leconte. But that was nothing compared to one of the men’s semi-finals which took four goes to get underway. Jack Ali Harvey got the full set of cards being shown green (along with everyone else), then yellow, and finally red’ To be fair, there was also a recall on the men’s 5000 as there had been in the previous night’s women’s 10k.
The fastest semi was the first one, with Darryl Neita winning in 10.95. This was Neita’s ninth sub-10 run, and your correspondent has seen 7 of them. Dina Asher-Smith defending champion but injured in Oregon and missing the Commonwealth Games, won her semi in 11.15. Mujinga Kambundji, World Indoor champion, took the third semi in 11.05 to set up an intriguing final.
In a manner previously trialed by European Athletics, Imani Lansiquot and Zaynab Dosso – third and fourth in the first semi – were made to sit on the naughty step as the two to reach if the final if no 3rd place athlete in the next two semis went fastest. They survived and qualified for the final.
Asher-Smith pulled up early in the final. Kambundji looked, from my vantage point, to be winning with Luckenkemper and Neita on her heels. The final result was
1 Gina Luckenkemper (Germany) 10.99
2 Mujinga Kambundji (Switzerland) 10.99
3 Daryll Neita (GB) 11.00
The German athlete had won by 5/1000 of a second. As she had done in the Commonwealth Games, Neita was unable to repeat a brilliant semi-final time.
Kambundji commented: “I came here to get the gold tonight, but that didn’t happen. Although I am happy, I am equally disappointed because it is not the gold, but it was so close. I still have more chances during these Championships, both in the 200 meters and in the relay with the girls. I have one day to rest, and then we go again. I am definitely hungry for more and motivated to do well in the next events”.
Neita explained that cramp had almost led her to withdraw: “My body gave up on me, it really wasn’t at its best, but I chose to roll the dice today. I still got a medal, but it was mine to win – it is what it is.
“I was cramping up a lot just after the presentation; I haven’t cramped all year, which isn’t great. If you actually watch, I was probably saying a prayer on the start line just to get through the line in one piece, which I did.
“I honestly wasn’t going to race, but who is going to believe me if I say I was cramping up? I did my best and got a medal somehow. I feel like I ran on one leg. I have been racing a lot, but I felt great in the call room and warm-up leading up to the race.
“I set up my blocks and did my push-out and was like ‘I’m cramping bad,’ but what can you do at that moment. I am a fighter, so I got on the start line and ran and still somehow got a medal”.
Asher-Smith said that she had cramps in her calves and did not want to risk running.
There was no quote from Luckenkemper. Perhaps the pictures show that she was in no state to talk!