Two incredible field finals, the opening round of a potentially thrilling men’s 60m competition and a host of other qualifications were among the highlights on Saturday morning at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
World class Walsh
New Zealand’s Tom Walsh came to Birmingham having yet to compete indoors in 2018, but having made a bet with his coach that he would retain the shot put title he won in 2016 and throw a personal best, he leaves it a very happy man indeed.
The 26-year-old propelled the shot to a staggering 22.31m in the final round, a championship record and outright personal best, in a competition he had led from the start after a 22.13m put with his first throw.
It was an event with incredible depth, as no fewer than 10 athletes exceeded 20.69m and seven threw beyond the 21m line.
Indeed, a South American indoor record 21.37m by Brazil’s Darlan Romani was only good enough for fourth, while double outdoor world champion David Storl and IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Tomas Stanek both threw 21.44m, the German taking silver on count back.
The crowd were understandably transfixed.
Rojas digs deep to defend her title
Birmingham seems to be developing a reputation for hosting superb horizontal jumps, as after the excitement of Friday’s men’s long jump, the women’s triple jumpers provided another high class contest that kept the crowd constantly guessing as to the destination of the medals.
With all eyes on defending champion Yulimar Rojas, it was Jamaica’s 2014 world indoor bronze medalist Kimberly Williams who took an early lead with a 14.37m leap in the first round, which she improved to 14.48, an indoor personal best, in the third.
Spain’s 2012 World U20 champion Ana Peleteiro then picked the right time to produce her furthest ever jump, the 22-year-old moving into the bronze medal position with 14.40m in the fourth round.
But Venezuela’s Rojas responded in the manner expected of a champion, producing a world leading 14.67m in round five, which was enough for victory and her third global title.
Coleman survives a scare
Once he got into his stride, world 60m record holder looked a picture of relaxation, almost strolling to victory in the first of seven sprint heats. But he almost didn’t get into his stride at all.
A stumble just three steps into the race looked like it might derail the 21-year-old’s attempt to win his first senior international title, but he steadied himself and cruised to the win in 6.71.
Coleman’s USA teammate Ronnie Baker was the quickest of the morning, clocking 6.57, while Turkey’s Emre Zafer Barnes, China’s IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Su Bingtian and Great Britain’s CJ Ujah were the other men to break 6.60.
Qualification round up
Defending champion Francine Niyonsaba and 2016 silver medalist Ajee’ Wilson were arguably the pick of the qualifiers from the 800m heats, where only race winners were guaranteed to progress to Sunday’s final, leaving no margin for error. Great Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke was the other automatic qualifier and those three, plus Switzerland’s Selina Buchel look like the main contenders for the medals.
In the men’s 1500m, Morrocco’s Abdelaati Iguider headed the list of qualifiers following heats that provided few clues as to where the title will be heading on Sunday. Great Britain’s Jake Wightman and Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera were the other race winners.
The USA were unsurprisingly the fastest qualifiers in both men’s and women’s 4x400m events and will be strong favourites to retain both titles, while France’s world decathlon champion retained his narrow lead over Canada’s London 2017 silver medalist Damian Warner after the heptathlon 60m hurdles and pole vault.
Next time, at the IAAF World Indoor Championships…
It’s business time. From 18:00 on Saturday…
Can Su stop Coleman’s coronation?
They both have to negotiate the semifinals first, but the men’s 60m final promises both fast times and a sumptuous head to head contest. World Indoor Tour winner Su against world record holder Coleman.
Medal at last for Harrison?
After a brisk 7.77 clocking in the heat, world 100m hurdles record holder Kendra Harrison no doubt expects to end her wait for an international championships medal. She’s promised to run hard in every round, but USA teammates Christina Manning and Sharika Nelvis will be out to beat her.
Two lap triumphs for USA?
The USA have two athletes in both the men’s and women’s 400m finals, but have contrasting prospects in each.
In the women’s race, Shakima Wimbley and Courtney Okolo have progressed to the final without challenge and can expect to make the podium, while in the men’s Aldrich Bailey and Michael Cherry have inside lanes and will have it all to do to take the title. Spain’s Oscar Husillos has looked the most impressive in qualifying.
Can Mayer hold on?
Following two days of heptathlon competition, France’s Kevin Mayer leads Canada’s Damian Warner by 34 points, with Germany’s Kai Kazmirek and Estonia’s Maicel Uibo within striking distance, too. 1000m of running will decide the medalists.
Kzsczot to trot?
Poland’s Adam Kzsczot took bronze in 2010 and silver in 2014, so the pattern suggests that he should win gold in tonight’s 800m. Great Britain’s Elliot Giles will be among those hoping to deny him.
Jumping joy to continue?
The men’s triple jumpers have a lot to live up to following the men’s long jump and women’s triple jump that have already lit up Arena Birmingham this week. Brazil’s Almir Dos Santos has the best mark in 2018, but Nelson Evora and Will Claye have plenty of championship experience.