After a much delayed start to the evening session, due to torrential rain, LaShawn Merritt turned in the performance of Day Seven of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Pacing himself perfectly through the first half of the 400 metres, much as Sanya Richards did in the women’s race, and letting twice champion Jeremy Wariner build up a lead, Merritt accelerated out of the final bend, and easily added the World title to the Olympic gold from last year. Merritt won in 44.06, fastest of the year, comprehensively defeating Wariner, second in 44.60sec. Renny Quow of Trinidad & Tobago came from seventh to bronze in the straight, in 45.02sec.
Felix makes it three in a row
It was the second of two gold medals in a little over ten minutes for US athletes. And the clenched fist as she crossed the line told the story of vindication for Allyson Felix, winning her third consecutive title in the women’s 200 metres. Felix was royally upstaged at the Olympic Games last year when, having beaten Veronica Campbell-Brown twice to the world title, after losing to the Jamaican at the Athens Olympics, Felix lost to ‘VCB’ again in Beijing.
Campbell-Brown, on the lane inside, tried gamely to draw abreast with Felix in the second 100 tonight, but the American surged away over the last 50 metres, and Campbell-Brown only just held on to silver in 22.35sec, ahead of Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas, third in 22.41sec.
Rybakov’s alchemy produces the result
After labouring up to 2.28 metres, the men’s High Jump really came to life, with four men clearing 2.32 metres at either first or second attempt. Highest of the year, Ivan Ukhov had already gone, and the crowd was willing their home boy, Raul Spank to win. Nobody went higher, but with Donald Thomas not defending his title, the men who finished behind him in Osaka moved up one. Yaroslav Rybakov of Russia, who has three silver to his credit (2001, 05, 07) won, with Kyriakos Ioannou of Cyprus taking silver. Spank shared bronze with Sylwester Bednarek of Poland.
Samuels ends Grasu’s long held dream
One of the revelations of the championship was Dani Samuels of Australia. Just when it looked as if Nicoleta Grasu of Romania would finally add a Discus gold to her seventh in Stuttgart, third in Seville, second in Edmonton, fifth in Helsinki, fourth in Osaka, Samuels, who had been progressing gently with each round suddenly added two and half metres to her best in consecutive throws in the fourth and fifth rounds. She took what turned out to be a winning lead with 65.44 metres. Yarelis Barrios of Cuba added further frustration to Grasu’s night, by winning silver with a final throw of 65.31. Grasu won bronze, but it was Samuels’ late night she won’t forget.
Russia takes race walk sweep
In the first final of the day, Sergey Kirdyapkin made history by completing the only national trio to win all three Walk titles at a global championships, when he took the 50km event in 3:38:35. The Russian joined colleagues, Valery Borchin and Olga Kaniskina, who won the 20km walks last weekend. The extra special feature of this hat trick is that all three Russians are coached by the same man, Viktor Chegin, at the Walks School in Saransk, 650k east of Moscow. Trond Nymark of Norway was second in 3:41:16 and 39-year-old Jesus Angel Garcia of Spain was third in 3:41:37, making him the oldest individual event medallist in history.
800m qualifying drama
The men’s 800 metres provided even more drama than we expected. World junior and World Indoor champion, Abubaker Kaki of Sudan is the fastest in the world over the last five years. But he didn’t get past the Olympic semi-final in Beijing. Ditto the semi-finals here. Leading in the first race, he tripped while in the lead, went down heavily and took Bram Som of Netherlands and Marcel Lewandowski of Poland with him. Nick Symmonds and Jackson Kivuva of Kenya qualified.
NOTE: A Jury decision decided that Kaki had tripped himself but that Som and Lewandowski would be allowed to proceed to the final.
The second semi had to be the most stacked heat in history, worthy of any major final. Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain, 1500 metres winner ended up first, ahead of 2004 Olympic champion Yuri Borzakovskiy of Russia, with defending champion Alfred Yego of Kenya and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi only qualifying as a fastest losers. Amine Lalou and Yelmer Lopez went through from the last heat.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF