Joe Kovacs after unleashing his winning throw at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
On another thrill-a-minute evening of athletics in which a slew of championship records tumbled and world all-time lists were rearranged, the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 once again delivered a momentous night which will linger long in the memory.
Leading the way was the greatest men’s shot put competition in history, which produced three of the seven longest throws ever as one centimetre separated all three medallists.
The 2017 champion Tom Walsh was seemingly on his way to victory after surpassing the championship record of 22.36m set earlier in the first round by Ryan Crouser as the New Zealander smashed out the longest put for 29 years of 22.90m.
Yet in an incredible final round, 2015 world champion Joe Kovacs launched the iron ball out 22.91m – a 34-centimetre improvement on his PB to take a one-centimetre lead. In one final twist, Crouser, who was sat in bronze, elevated himself to silver with a 22.90m effort, exactly matching Walsh’s mark but relegating the New Zealander to bronze by virtue of a superior second-best mark.
Also in the field, the statuesque Yulimar Rojas unleashed the fourth longest jump in history to retain her world triple jump crown with a mighty second-round leap of 15.37m.
The performance came within four centimetres of her South American record set last month and fell just 13 centimetres short of the world and championship record of Inessa Kravets. Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts took silver with 14.92m with two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen earning a fifth successive World Championships triple jump medal with bronze (14.72m).
On the track the action was no less compelling, led by Sifan Hassan who completed the unprecedented 1500m and 10,000m double with the sixth best performance in history over the metric mile.
The 26-year-old Dutchwoman led from about 250m and simply gradually squeezed on the gas to destroy the opposition and set a championship record and European record time of 3:51.95.
Faith Kipyegon, the 2017 world champion and Olympic champion, set a Kenyan record of 3:54.22 with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia wiping more than three seconds from her personal best with 3:54.38 for bronze.
Another spectacular front-running display delivered yet another championship record as Hellen Obiri retained her world 5000m title in style.
The Kenyan outpaced the opposition on a scintillating final lap to stop the clock in 14:26.72 with Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi 0.77 back in silver. Konstanze Klosterhalfen claimed Germany’s first World Championships medal in his event with bronze (14:28.43).
The sprint relay finals also provided some exhilarating racing as the US claimed their first men’s 4x100m title for 12 years in a dazzling national record time of 37.10.
Led off by world 100m champion Christian Coleman, followed by two-time world champion Justin Gatlin and anchored by world 200m gold medallist Noah Lyles, the US quartet ripped around the 400m oval in the third-fastest time in history.
The quality behind was also hugely impressive as Great Britain landed silver in a European record of 37.36 – 0.07 ahead of Japan, who posted an Asian record mark.
Jamaica regained the women’s 4x100m world title with the help of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who raced to her second gold medal in Doha and ninth in total at a World Championships.
The Jamaican pocket rocket featured on leg two and by the time 400m specialist Shericka Jackson received the baton on anchor they held a huge lead. The Caribbean nation stopped the clock in a world-leading 41.44, the eighth-fastest time in history.
Great Britain grabbed silver in 41.85 as Dina Asher-Smith added a second silver to her 200m gold. The 2017 champions USA snatched bronze in 42.10.
In a straight forward heat one of the women’s 4x400m, the main contenders booked their spot in tomorrow’s (6) final. Jamaica and Poland were locked together at the third exchange but world 400m finalist Stephenie Ann McPherson kicked on to lead the Jamaicans to victory in 3:23.64. Poland slipped off the pace but still had enough in hand to take second in 3:25.78 – 0.08 clear of Canada. All three nations advance to the medal race.
USA, powered by Allyson Felix, who is looking to extend her record-breaking total of 12 World Championships gold medals, cruised to the heat two win in 3:22.97. Great Britain bagged a comfortable second spot in 3:24.99 with Ukraine, thanks to a turbo-charged anchor leg by Anna Ryzhkova, overhauled Belgium by just 0.01 in 3:26.87. Belgium may have missed an automatic spot but advanced on time with a national record mark.
In heat one of the men’s 4x400m the USA recovered from a sloppy second exchange in which they slipped from joint first to fourth to recover and clinch victory in 2:59.89. Vernon Norwood and Wilbert London will have nightmares about their baton fumbling but the third leg runner kept his composure and a scintillating leg put the US back in control. Colombia, powered by individual 400m silver medallist Anthony Jose Zambrano, set a national record of 3:01.06 for second with Italy finishing strongly to grab the third automatic spot.
In a rollercoaster heat two, nine-time medallists Jamaica held off a late charge by Belgium’s Kevin Borlee to grab a thrilling victory by 0.11 in 3:00.76. In an almighty scrap for the third automatic spot, Trinidad & Tobago left it late but a well-timed surge on the rail from Deon Lendore enabled the Caribbean nation to advance to the final in 3:01.35 – 0.05 ahead of France, who also advance on time.
A world-class opening round of the women’s 100m hurdles whet the appetite for tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated semi-finals and final.
Jamaica’s world leader and 2015 world champion Danielle Williams laid down a clear marker as to her gold medal intentions by blitzing to a 12.51 clocking – the equal fastest time ever recorded in the World Championships first round – to win heat three. Behind, Andrea Carolina Vargas grabbed second in 12.68 to slice 0.07 from the Costa Rican record.
However, in the perfect riposte to Williams’ time, Nigerian Tobi Amusan trimmed 0.01 from her lifetime best to record 12.48 and take a clear win in heat five from Jamaica’s Janeek Brown (12.61). The African and Commonwealth champion could be the athlete to smash the US-Jamaican duopoly in this event.
In a first round bursting with quality, world record-holder Kendra Harrison had no issues in heat one, taking top spot in a slick 12.55. 2015 world silver medallist Cindy Roleder of Germany followed the world indoor champion home in a season’s best of 12.76.
Two-time world indoor champion Nia Ali also looked in great shape, recording a blistering 12.59 to bank top spot in heat one. Jamaica’s Megan Tapper (12.78) also advances to Sunday’s semi-finals.
There was heartbreak, however, for 2013 world champion and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal. Running in heat two, the US sprint hurdler committed the terminal athletics sin of a false start and exited the competition in tears.
In her absence, Italy’s Luminosa Bogliolo profited by grabbing the heat two win in a handy 12.80 – 0.05 clear of Jamaica’s 2013 world U18 champion Yanique Thompson.
It was a mixed bag for the four-pronged German challenge in an intriguing men’s javelin qualification. Defending champion Johannes Vetter has endured an abbreviated season due to injury, but gave a clear indication he can perform when it counts, firing the javelin out to a mighty 89.35m to head the qualifiers.
But it was not such good news for his compatriots Thomas Rohler and Andreas Hofmann who were eliminated. Rohler, the Olympic and European champion, looked out of sorts and could only produce a best of 79.23m and Hofmann, the European silver medallist and 90m thrower, was also below par and had to be satisfied with a modest 80.06m.
The fourth German, Julian Weber with 84.29m, was one of seven men to go beyond the 84.00m automatic qualification distance. Second in the preliminaries was Diamond trophy winner Magnus Kirt, the left-handed Estonian impressing with his second-round effort of 88.36m.
The other men to bank the 84.00m automatic qualification mark were Pan Am champion Anderson Peters of Grenada (85.34m), Sweden’s Kim Amb (84.85m), 2012 Olympic champion Kershorn Walcott (84.44m) of Trinidad & Tobago and 2017 world silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch (84.31m) of the Czech Republic.
European champion Malaika Mihambo is unbeaten throughout a flawless 2019 outdoor campaign, and her odds of gold in the women’s long jump shortened after she headed the qualifiers for Sunday’s final.
The majestic German soared out to 6.98m – the longest leap in a World Championship qualification session for 20 years. However, there will be no place in the final for four-time world champion Brittney Reese. The US long jumper struggled to find her groove and was teetering on the edge in 12th with a best of 6.52m as Chanice Porter took to the runway for the final jump of qualification. Agonisingly for Reese, the Jamaican broke the sand at 6.57m to relegate the American to 13th – one place and one centimetre from a final spot.
Only two other women exceeded the 6.75m automatic qualification distance as Nigeria’s Ese Brume sailed out to 6.89m and 2017 world 100m champion Tori Bowie of the US registered 6.77m.
Steve Landells for the IAAF