48.14! Salwa Eid Naser at the IAAF World Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
Salwa Eid Naser unleashed a performance which rocked the athletics world on day seven of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 by striking gold with the third-fastest 400m time in history.
Competing in front of a passionate and vociferous crowd inside the Khalifa International Stadium, the diminutive Bahraini dominated from the outset to stop the clock in a dazzling time of 48.14 – the fastest time in the world for 34 years.
The pre-event favourite and Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo tried to close down Naser, who held a gargantuan lead heading into the home straight, but could not come within striking distance. The Bahamian herself climbed to sixth on the world all-time list with an NACAC area record time of 48.37.
For the first time in World Championships history, five women dipped under 50 seconds with Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson grabbing another global bronze in 49.47. The US duo Wadeline Jonathas (49.60) and 2017 champion Phyllis Francis (49.61) rounded out the top five.
Johnson-Thompson defeats Thiam
On a sensational day seven of action in which combined events formed the centrepiece of the programme, Katarina Johnson-Thompson unseated Nafissatou Thiam as world heptathlon champion by setting a British record of 6981 and climbing to number six on the world all-time list.
In an outstanding demonstration of her athletics gifts, the 26-year-old set PBs in four of the seven events to inflict a heavy 304pt defeat on a below par Thiam.
The Belgian, who won the 2017 world title and is reigning Olympic and European champion, had to settle for silver with 6677pts with Austria’s Verena Preiner taking bronze with 6560pts.
Kaul surprises to take decathlon win
In a wildly unpredictable and thrilling final day of the decathlon, German Niklas Kaul surged back from a distant overnight position of 11th to strike gold with a personal best of 8691 and become the youngest ever winner of this title at the age of 21.
Earlier, defending champion Kevin Mayer made a tearful exit through injury in the pole vault and as others stumbled in pursuit of gold it was Kaul, who claimed personal best performances in the pole vault and javelin, the latter also a championship decathlon best, who pounced.
Remarkably, just 43 points separated the top four leading into the 1500m but Kaul maintained his composure and drawing upon every ounce of energy dragged his body to a stunning time of 4:15.71 – just 0.19 shy of his lifetime best.
Maicel Uibo matched his wife Shaunae Mille-Uibo in winning World Championship silver as the Estonian accumulated a personal best decathlon total of 8604.
Damian Warner was short of his best but a total haul of 8529 earned the Canadian bronze and his third World Championships decathlon medal.
Gong successfully defends
Gong Lijiao successfully defended the women’s shot put title and maintained her remarkable streak of having collected a medal at each of the past six World Championships.
The Chinese athlete led from her opening throw and a best of 19.55m earned the 30-year-old a narrow victory. In the final round Danniel Thomas-Dodd almost caused an upset but fell a tantalising eight centimetres shy of Gong’s mark, although she had the consolation of becoming the first Jamaican woman to win a throws medal at an IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Bronze went to Christina Schwanitz of Germany (19.17m), who now has the full set of World Championship medals.
No surprises in women’s 1500m semis
All the main contenders advanced to Saturday’s women’s 1500m final in a pair of contrasting semi-finals.
A pedestrian first semi-final of the women’s 1500m saw all the chief contenders draw upon their speed reserves to advance. The field went through 800m at a crawl (2:28.24) but world leader Sifan Hassan, who is seeking the unusual 1500m and 10,000m double in Doha, successfully manoeuvred herself from the back of the field at the bell to power around the last lap to top spot in 4:14.69 from US champion Shelby Houlihan (4:14.91). Morocco’s Rababe Arafi in 4:14.94 pipped defending champion Faith Kipyegon in fourth. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean (4:15.73) shaded the fifth and final automatic qualification place by 0.24 from Great Britain’s Sarah McDonald.
A much faster second semi-final – thanks to the pacesetting efforts of 800m fourth place finisher Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda and Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay – saw the top seven progress to the medal race.
Former champion Jenny Simpson, courtesy of an eye-catching burst of speed on the inside rail, took out top spot in a swift 4:00.99. She was followed by Gabriela Debues-Stafford, just 0.05 adrift with the Canadian’s training partner and European champion Laura Muir just a tick behind in third. Tsegay was rewarded with fourth (4:01.12) with Kenya’s Winny Chebet taking the fifth and final automatic spot (4:01.14). Nanyondo grabbed a place on time in 4:01.30 with American Nikki Hiltz carving almost two seconds from her PB in 4:01.52 taking the final time slot.
Favourites move on from men’s 1500m opening round
Three fast and furious first round heats claimed two Kenyan casualties, the fourth placer at the 2017 World Championship final and a stay of execution on time for the reigning World Indoor champion Samuel Tefera.
A blanket could have been hurled over the lead group as just 0.15 separated the first seven finishers of a desperately close first heat. European champion Jakob Ingebrigsten edged the scramble for one of six automatic qualification positions for Friday’s semi-finals in 3:37.67. He was followed by Alexis Miellet of France and Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz, who were credited with the same time (3:37.69). Great Britain’s Jake Wightman, Marcin Lewandowski of Poland and Amos Bartelsmeyer also enjoyed the sanctuary of the finish line to advance.
However, Ethiopia’s World Indoor champion Samuel Tefera, who appeared set fair for a qualification spot for all but the final few metres, finished seventh in 3:37.82. He then had a nervous wait but found a route to the semi-final on time. George Manangoi of Kenya, brother of 2017 world champion, Elijah, was not so fortunate as he exited the competition at the first round stage in tenth (3:38.39). Spain’s Adel Mechaal in eighth, who finished one place outside of the medals at the London World Championships, is also eliminated.
Diamond League Trophy winner and world number Timothy Cheruiyot eased into the semi-finals by taking an incident-packed second semi-final in 3:36.82. While the Kenyan opted to sensibly run from the front, Ethiopia’s Teddese Lemi tumbled to the ground with a little under a lap to go after veering in front of Filip Ingebrigtsen. While Lemi’s hopes of qualification crumbled, the Norwegian, who won world bronze in 2017, progressed in fourth (3:37.44). Josh Kerr of Great Britain (3:37.09), America’s Ben Blankenship, former world indoor champion Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco will also take their place in the semis. Kenyan Kumari Taki missed out in ninth.
Just under 0.75 separated the top nine men in a frantic third heat of the men’s 1500m. Former world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti was fastest qualifier to the semi-finals, winning the close fought battle in 3:36.16 – with the 2012 Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria just 0.02 behind in second. Two-time 2019 Diamond League winner Ronald Musagala of Uganda needed to get a wiggle on to qualify in sixth (3:36.54) while 3:28 1500m performer Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya squeezed through on time.
Stage set for mammoth men’s shot put showdown
With a record-breaking eight men over 22m this year the qualification distance of 20.90m in the men’s shot was likely to prove meat and drink for the leading throwers, and so it proved. Twelve men surpassed the distance and a giving a hint of the fireworks we are likely see in that final defending champion Tom Walsh led the qualifiers with a mighty heave of 21.92m. Brazil’s Darlan Romani (21.69m) also impressed in group A. Olympic champion Ryan Crouser topped the qualifiers in Group B, firing the 7.26kg metal ball out to 21.67m.
There was also a memorable moment for Serbian champion Armin Sinancevic who added 77cm on to his personal best to advance with 21.51m.
Two members of the 22-metre club will not feature in the final. Out-of-sorts European champion Michal Haratyk could only muster 20.52m and Bob Bertemes missed the opportunity to become the first athlete from Luxembourg to qualify for a World Championships final with a lowly 19.40m.
Favourites through in women’s triple jump
The Diamond League Trophy winner Shanieka Ricketts offered further evidence of her potential to figure prominently in Saturday’s final by topping the qualifiers in the triple jump preliminaries. The Jamaican, who this season has advanced her personal best by 32cm, bound out to 14.42m with her first round effort. Three world champions were among the four other women to snag the automatic qualification distance of 14.30m – as Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas (14.32m) – taking off some 43cm behind the board – Olha Saladuka of Ukraine (14.32m) and Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen (14.31m) progressed. US champion Kenturah Orji also achieved the required mark of 14.30m to the centimetre.
The surprise casualty was Cuba’s Lladagmis Povea. The Diamond League third place finisher, who this season boasts a PB of 14.77m, struggled to find her rhythm and will take no part in the final, mustering a modest best of 14.08m for 15th best.
Ortega elevated to bronze
Following Wednesday’s men’s 110m hurdles a decision was made to award Orlanda Ortega a bronze medal. Ortega was in silver medal position when he was impeded by the disqualified Omar McLeod during the final and crossed the line fifth. Following an appeal the Spaniard is awarded bronze. The original bronze medallists Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France will retain his medal.
Steve Landells for the IAAF