World Championships London 2017 – Day 3 Report

 

AFRICA THE NEW SPRINT POWERHOUSE?

Like day 2, day 3 brought with it many surprises. From Belgian’s first world championships heptathlon gold to USA’s surprise win in the women’s 100m and while the 400m men showed their class in the 400m rounds, Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya upgraded from Boston Marathon champion to world champion.

Day three of the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London kicked off in an historic manner with the men’s and women’s marathon happening on the same day, the first time in the history of the sport. Adding to that, it was the only final events of the morning session. Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya, the 2017 Boston Marathon winner, broke the tape in 2:08:27 to secure the nation’s fifth world championships marathon title, a feat that no other country has achieved. 2:04 Ethiopian marathoner Tamirat Tola crossed the line in a disappointing 2:09:39 to outwit Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu who managed to clock 2:09:41, a tough battle for the silver!
It was Tola and Kirui who were in charge at the 30km mark and by the look of things, the Ethiopian seemed like the one to take the title until his wheels came down after many surging attempts! Tirui, meanwhile, kept his composure and like usual, waited for the right to clinch Kenya’s historic 5th title!

Rose Chelimo of Bahria, on the other hand, ended the first session of day 3 on another historical note by clinching the women’s marathon title to make up for her 8th spot in Rio last year. Looking to make their mark against the best in world, Alyson Dixon (GBR), Catarena Ribeiro (ITA) and Jessica Trengrove (AUS) took the women through the phases only to surrender with 7km to go. Here, the ‘big guns’ all of a sudden came to the fore and the with the pace through the roof, it was going to be difficult to maintain. 2011 & 2013 winner Edna Kiplagat’s surges wasn’t enough for Chelimo who had no time to show respect for her senior. The 28-year-old Bahrain broke the tape in 2:27:11, a mere 7 seconds ahead of Kiplagat who had USA’s Amy Cragg for business as both athletes sprinted  over the finish line in 2:27:18.

The men’s 400m, on the other hand, was led by Bahama’s Steven Gardiner  who clocked a blistering fast 43.89 national record to qualify for the men’s final taking place on Tuesday evening. With the standard of 400m at its highest to date,  it was no surprise to see all 8 men dip under 45 seconds to earn their spot in the final. Behind Gardiner, three Africans Wayde van Niekerk, Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe qualified in their respective semi-finals clocking 44.22, 44.30 and 44.33! Is Africa the new sprinting powerhouse?

But Jamaican Omar McLeod also had a message to deliver when he won his 110mh semis in 13.10, telling the world that Jamaica has a new star on the horizon. The Olympic champion is the only hurdler to run a sub 13 second 110mh and sub 10 second 100m, so with his eyes set on the gold, who will take the silver? Well, the new Frenchman Garfield Darien is a man to watch after finishing 2nd to McLeod in 13.17 whilst Shane Brathwaite of Barbados won his semi in 13.26 with ahead of another Jamacain Hansle Parchment (13.27). But with American Aries Merrit bouncing back to the shape of his life, we might be in for the best short hurdle race in a long time after McLeod made it clear that he is after Merrit’s world record. Who will overcome the hurdles first in tonight’s final?

In the women’s Pole Vault, meanwhile, it was the Greek Ekaterina Stefanido who was the best on the night and the best this year with a best attempt of 4.91m. This national record and world lead of Stefanido was good enough to out-vault previous champion Yarisley Silva who finished third on the night behind the Greek and American Sandi Morris (4.75m). Venezuelan Robeiylis Peinado was joined Silva as the bronze medallist.

As the pole vault celebrations continued, Nafissatou Thiam, the Olympic Heptathlon champion, had a lead of 172 points, so a third place 2:21.42 800m finish was good enough to give the Belgian her first world title. She gathered 6784 points to be crowned world champion after a successful Olympic campaign. Must be something special for the tall and strong star who has done most of her off season work in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Carolin Schafer of Germany took silver with 6696 points, narrowly beating the new Dutch record holder who raked up 6636 points.

The men’s Shot Put final, though, stole the show with 6 men putting over 21m. But is was New Zealand who took honours when Tom Walsh showed that he is not a one-put-wonder with a heave of 22.03…the third best throw in world championships history! In fact, all six of his attempts was over 21m, making it even more special. But while Walsh enjoyed the form of his life at the perfect time, Joe Kovacs only managed an ‘average'(according to his standards) competition with his 21.66m best attempt securing the silver medal. Croatia star athlete Stipe Zunic came 20cm short of Kovacs’ best, thus taking the bronze for a proud Cuba nation.

Day 3, lastly, came to a dramatic end when USA took back the power that was once theirs. Elaine Thompson was the firm favourite to take the women’s 100m title, but like Usain Bolt the previous night, her start was lacklustre and it was too late! American Tori Bowie took advantage and in similar fashion as Gatlin when held on for a 10.85 second season’s best victory ahead of Ivory Coast sensation Marie-Josee Ta Lou who led most of the race until Bowie’s dramatic dip. Ta Lou’s 10.86 for silver ahead of Dafne Schippers who took the bronze, is an indication of where African sprinting is headed. On top of this, another Ivory Coast stalwart Murielle Ahoure was 4th in front of Thompson.

Written by Reggie Hufkie