Doha, Qatar - September 29th, 2019
Not all of the action on the track involves distance events. We must pay homage to the other types of competitions that take place on the 400 meter oval. And Day Three of the 2019 IAAF Outdoor World Championships proves to be a good opportunity to do just that.
The evening started out with the preliminary round of the men’s 200 meter dash as 53 sprinters from various countries who had met the world championship qualifying standard did battle in the first of three rounds of the 200 meters. To advance to the semi-finals, an athlete would need to finish in the top three of his heat [there were 7] to automatically advance to the semi-final round which will be held Monday. The next 3 overall fastest times – essentially “not automatic qualifiers” – would also advance on time to round out the semi-final field to 24. The fastest time of the evening was a sparkling 20.06 by Great Britain’s Adam Gemili, the winner of Heat One. The slowest automatic qualifying time was 20.52. If an athlete was not a top 3 finisher, it took a clocking of 20.44 to advance as one of the 3 time qualifiers. USA’s Noah Lyles who has the world’s fastest 200m time this year of 19.50, finished 2rd in his heat in 20.26. Defending world champion Ramil Guliev of Turkey was an automatic qualifier posting a mark of 20.27. It may well take a sub-20 second time to gain a spot on the podium. The quest for the medals resumes with tomorrow’s semi-final round.
Next up on the track was the semi-final of the women’s 100 meter dash. After yesterday’s preliminary round, 24 athletes advanced to compete in the Day Three semi-final heats where the top 2 finishers in each of the 3 semi-final heats automatically advanced to the women’s 100 meter final later in the evening. They were joined by the next 2 fastest non-automatic qualifiers who also advanced to the 8-athlete final at the end of this evening. The fastest time of the semi-final round was 10.81 by Jamaica’s 2-time Olympic 100 meter champion and current world leader [10.73] Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce To advance to the final, it took a time of 11.10. The 8 finalists then had approximately a two hour intermission before coming back out on the track to battle for the medals at the end of the evening.
As the evening moved along, it was time for the semi-final round of the men’s 800 meters. The semi-final proved to be a curious example of how important a thorough understanding of the system of advancement can be. In the first semi-final heat of the 2-lap event, the early pace was insanely fast as the 8-athlete field split 200 meters in 23.11. The early leaders ultimately faded, but not by much as Puerto Rican frontrunner Wesley Vazques won in what would be the evening’s fastest time of 1:43.96, followed by Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich [2nd in 1:44.20] and USA’s Clayton Murphy [3rd in 1:44.48]. With only the top 2 finishers in each heat gaining automatic qualifiers, Murphy was relegated to waiting out the final two heats to see if he would advance as one of the only two time qualifiers. As it turned out, none of the athletes in the last two heats ran faster than Murphy. So the reigning Olympic 800 meter bronze medalist did qualify for Tuesday’s final. By comparison, Great Britain’s Elliot Giles who clocked 1:45.15 in his semi-final – with the 7th fastest semi-final time and faster than 2 of the automatic qualifiers – did not capture a time qualifier and thus did not advance.
Next was a new event introduced in these world championships: the mixed 4 x 400 meter relay – an event featuring 2 men and 2 women each racing a lap around the track in any order the team might select. In the preliminary round held on Day One, the United States quartet of Tyrell Richard, veteran gold medalist Jessica Beard, Jasmine Blocker, and Obi Igbokwe rang-up a heat winning clocking of 3:12.42 which set a new world record in this nascent event. In this evening’s final, the USA inserted an entirely new lineup of Wil London, Allyson Felix, Courtney Okolo, and Michael Cherry. Racing in that order, the American squad notched an easy victory with an ebullient Cherry crossing the line in 3:09.34 to set yet another new world record. The victory also gave Allyson Felix – considered by many as the most versatile sprinter of all time – her 12th world championship gold medal, one more than legendary sprinter Usain Bolt. Allyson’s relay split of 50.2 just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter Camryn suggests she will still be a formidable force in the 2020 Olympic year.
The night was capped off by the women’s 100 meters final. After a dramatic, dimly-lit introduction of the finalists, the crowd in attendance at Khalifa International Stadium was treated to an electrifying 100 meter final. Wily veteran Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce executed yet another lightning-like start to gain an immediate advantage that she never relinquished. Never seriously threatened, the 2-time Olympic 100 meter champion hit the line in a world-leading time of 10.71 to capture her 4th world championship 100 meter gold medal and her 9th world championship medal overall, 8 of them gold. Her winning time ranks as the #6 all time performance and has only ever been bettered by 4 other women.
Day Four promises to feature more excitement on the track and in the field. The final of the men’s 5000 meters should be terrific. But don’t overlook the many other non-distance events on the oval which will be exciting as well.
Dave Hunter is an award-winning journalist who is a U.S. Correspondent for Track & Field News. He also writes a weekly column and serves as Senior Writer for www.RunBlogRun.com, and covers championship track & field competition domestically and in such global capitals as Moscow, Birmingham, Zurich, Brussels, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Zagreb, and Ostrava. Hunter frequently serves as the arena or stadium announcer for championship track & field gatherings, including the Ivy League, the Big East, the Mid-American Conference, the NAIA, the Big Ten, and the Millrose Games. Hunter has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments.. He ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic Era. To find out more about Dave, visit his website: www.trackandfieldhunter.com He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org