Living up to his favourite’s billing, Christian Coleman dominated the 100m to underscore his ambitions to stake claim to the ‘world’s fastest man’ title in the post-Usain Bolt era.
His style isn’t quite reminiscent, but the manner of his 9.76 winning performance at Khalifa Stadium tonight was. In World Championships history, only Bolt’s legendary 9.58 world record at the 2009 edition in Berlin has been faster.
“I've been blessed with incredible talent and tonight I was able to show it,” said Coleman, who knocked 0.03 from the career best he set in the Diamond League final in Brussels last year.
He was out fast, built a visible lead by 30 metres and by 60, already seemed uncatchable in his quest to improve upon his runner-up finish in London two years ago, where he relegated Bolt to bronze in the Jamaican’s final 100m race.
“I usually have a good start but I don't follow it up with execution, so I've been working on my drive phase and being patient. Tonight it all paid off.”
“Last time it was a surprise when I won silver but this time there was a lot of pressure, but I managed to come out with gold.”
Only five men have ever gone faster than Coleman’s winning performance tonight, two of them lining up in this race.
One is Justin Gatlin, the defending champion, who at 37 is still managing to win medals. This time he collected silver, his first of that color at the World Championships and fifth overall in the short dash, courtesy of a 9.89 performance to secure the fifth 1-2 in the event for the US.
“Christian has had a spectacular season and I knew he'd be tough to beat,” said Gatlin, who arrived with a 9.87 season’s best. “He ran a great race, but I have a message for next year - I'm coming. He'd better be ready.
Andre De Grasse illustrated that his comeback from injury is on track, finishing third in 9.90, a personal best that clipped 0.01 from the clocking that propelled him to Olympic bronze three years ago. That bodes well for the Canadian’s ambitions in Doha which include a podium finish in the 200m, a chase that gets underway with the heats on Sunday (29).
“I am grateful to get myself back on the podium,” said De Grasse, whose star rose in 2016 after he left the Rio Olympic Games with three medals. “In the last couple of years, I have been trying to keep my mind positive and telling myself that I can come back and be back where I was and even better. Definitely today was a good sign.”
He finished just ahead of African champion Akani Simbine, who clocked 9.93, coming just a few inches shy of securing Africa’s first 100m medal of any kind at the World Championships.
Further back, 2011 champion Yohan Blake, who sits third on the all-time list at 9.69, finished fifth in 9.97, 0.02 faster than he ran in London two years ago but one spot back.
European champion Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain was sixth in 10.03, ahead of Italy’s Filippo Tortu and Canada’s Aaron Brown, who clocked 10.07 and 10.08 respectively.
The athletes were introduced in spectacular fashion, with a light show bouncing off the track and lights beaming the athletes’ names and portraits across the home straight as they were announced.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF