Jason Richardson started off the afternoon session with a real bang as the youngster from Texas followed up his win in the 110 metre Hurdles on Friday by a masterful and historic victory in the 400 metre Hurdles. For this was the first time that an athlete had completed the Hurdles double in any major championships. And to put still greater gloss on the golden achievement, Richardson set world leading times with both of his winning performances.
“It is very much a relief,” Richardson confessed afterwards, “I thought it was going to be a little bit easier. The wind was a factor, I don’t know why it is always so windy up here. But I overcame that, and the circumstances of the lower hurdles, so regardless of the time I’m very happy.
“Although the goal of getting the record was in my mind, I knew that because I was attempting both it would have been a rare case if I would have achieved both. I know if I’d run each race individually I could have broken the records, but I would rather have two gold medals than one record.
“Last night I ate a burger, tonight I can celebrate because I have nothing to do tomorrow.”
Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Salhi confirmed the form he had shown in the heats, as he ran away from Kenyans Bernard Kiptanui Kiptum and Abraham Kipngetich Ngeno in the 800 metres.
The Saudi had come to Sherbrooke off a world leading time set in Trikala, Greece at the end of June and he did not disappoint, as he stormed past the frontrunning Kenyans coming into the home straight and outkicked them for the gold and a new Championships Record time of 1:48.79. Kiptum took silver in 1:49.79 and Ngeno bronze in 1:49.17.
“It was my tactic to wait,” said Al-Salhi after the race. “That is how I won.
“The first 600 metres was very easy. I could have run faster, I have the Saudi record of 1:47.74. I am proud of the gold medal.”
Kiptum was satisfied with his medal: “I gave everything I had to go faster and I didn’t expect to be passed, but it doesn’t matter. I didn’t give up, because I was hoping to get the gold medal, but I am not disappointed. It was our plan to return home with medals . We’re very happy.”
Australia’s Sally McLellan lived up to expectations in the women’s 110 metres Final. The talented youngster had run a world leading 13.14 seconds on Friday in the Semi-Final and, though she failed to match this performance this evening, she managed to hold off a determined attack by Latoya Greaves from Jamaica to take the gold medal in 13.42secs. Greaves crossed the line in 13.49, followed by the USA’s Domenique Manning. McLellan’s day was not over, though, as she still had to run in the 200 metres Final.
The youngster did not fare so well, unsurprisingly perhaps, in the half lap race, where she had to settle for fifth place.
“I could never be disappointed,” said McLellan after her finals, “I ran to the best of my ability in that race and that’s all I care about. I’m ecstatic, I was running on adrenaline!”
“My coach did give me the option not to run the 200 metres but I wasn’t going to have it. I knew I was going to be very tired but I also know I am very strong in my mind,” she continued. “One has to be strong physically but also mentally.”
The winner of the 200 metres, Anneisha McLaughlin from Jamaica, however, did expres disappointment: “This is a part of what I came here to do. I wanted to set the record too, but that didn’t happen. I’m a bit disappointed.”
Jelena Stina had looked as though she was going to give Latvia and indeed Europe a rare medal in the women’s 1500 metres Final, but fatigue and a premature vision of victory got the better of the youngster and as she prepared to raise her arms in victory, Ethiopia’s Alem Techale slipped through on the inside to snatch the gold in a new personal best of 4:17.41 – just 2 hundredths better than Stina. Joyce Jepkosgei Musungu completed the East African sandwich of Stina, taking the bronze medal in 4:17.65, also a personal record.
Stina admitted her error after the race: “I lost because I slowed down at the end. I thought she (Techale) was at least three metres behind me. I’m not happy. The only thing I wanted was the gold.”
Techale was happier: “When she passed me I didn’t expect it. When I saw her I ran faster so I could get first. I was coming here to win the gold medal for my country. (Regarding the late arrival of the Ethiopian team who had been delayed by delays in obtaining their visas and who had arrive only on the late evening of the first day) I felt a little tired but not too much. I’m happy to win the gold medal.”
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt had been widely expected to win the 400 metres and probably set a record in the process. As it was, in the absence of the Jamaican, Nagmeldin Ali Abubakr of Sudan took up the gauntlet and held off the challenge of USA’s Cedric Goodman to win the race in a new Personal Best and Championships Record of 46.10.
“This is what I was planning to do for my country,” he declared after the race. He (Goodman) was so far out there I couldn’t see him. He was way out there. I was taking my time. When it came to 150 metres to go, even though he was ahead, I saw that I could win.”
In the women’s race, Natasha Hastings maintained the USA’s unbroken winning streak, giving herself an early birthday present in the process. She found the weather conditions (temperature falling and gusting breezes) try, “The weather and wind were tough to deal with,” she complained. “I also had a nagging cold for the whole two weeks. I was really hoping to set a new PB, but I have to bear in mind that it was three rounds and it’s not that easy to win all three.”
The men’s 100 metres paid tribute to the efforts and resources that Saudi Arabia have been putting behind their athletics programme, as Saudi sprinters Yahya Al-Gahes and Yahya Hassan Habib achieved the double in the short sprint, closely followed by Craig Pickering of Great Britain.
Al-Gahes was delighted with the result. “It was a good feeling to have my teammate finish second. My motivation and concentration were the keys to my victory. There’s going to be a big celebration back home in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to God. It is nice to have this medal.”
Habib was overwhelmed: “Obviously I was going for gold, but I am happy my teammate got it and I am very happy with the silver. I’m very happy that the gold went to a Saudi. I’m very happy and my parents are going to be very happy.”
Iryna Kovalenko rose to the occasion in splendid fashion to win the women’s High Jump title with a gutsy third-time clearance at 1.88 metres to clinch the gold, and then, the pressure off, cleared 1.90 and then 1.92 to set a championship record. The Ukrainian had come to Sherbrooke with a personal record of just 1.86 metres.
She admitted that it had been a demanding competition: “I really had to concentrate hard today, so I am really shocked and excited about the result.
“Once I cleared 1m88 I wanted to go for the Championships record at 1.94 and I got close. But the wind really affected me at 1.94.”
For Germany’s Annette Engel the silver medallist there was a new personal best too: “I would never have thought that I would have won a medal today. I set my personal best (1.86) and ended up with the silver.
“This is something that I have never experienced before. It’s been a great competition!”
In an event that one would not really associate with Argentina, German Chiaravaglio added another notch in the South American medal tally with a decisive victory in the men’s Pole Vault. Chiaravaglio’s father is the national team coach and he shouted encouragement from the stands as he watched his son soar to 5.15 metres to take the gold medal.
“I am very happy,” said Chiaravaglio, “I have trained a lot for this and that was the key to victory. I will be very emotional when I receive my medal, it’s a dream come true. I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with my friends.”
With most of the day’s finals concentrated in the afternoon, the action had been slower in the morning of day four of the Championships, but was not lacking in drama.
The best performance of the morning came in the women’s 800 metres Semi-Finals, where Russia’s Maria Chapaeva, running in the third heat stamped her authority on the two lap race by running a new Championships Record time of 2:05.40. With the first two in eac heat and the two fastest losers going through to Sunday’s Final, Chapeava will take the three girls running in her wake through to that race too.
Also worthy of note, the performance of Cristine Spataru in the Long Jump Qualification. The Romanian, who yesterday won gold in the Triple Jump today assured her place in the Final of the Long Jump too, passing the 6.10 metre automatic qualifying mark with nine centimetres to spare. She placed third in the qualification ranks, behind Denisa Scerbova from Czech Republic and Ukarine’s Ganna Demydova, with 6.31 and 6.21 respectively.
Perhaps the biggest upset of the morning came in the men’s medley relay, where favourites Jamaica were disqualified for an infraction at the first handover. After pulling out of Friday’s 400 metres race due to a stomach bug and thus missing today’s final, Jamaican youth prodigy Usain Bolt’s chances of winning more than a gold in the 200 metres have been dashed.
The only Final of the morning session was the women’s Hammer Throw and this could well go down in history as the longest event of its kind in Championships history, with 24 athletes competing after Friday’s qualification round was cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions. The gold medal went to Croatia’s Valentina Srsa, with 61.18 metres, a mark that she said disappointed her: “I am happy that I won, but I know that I could have done better. My first throw was superb. I knew that it went far enough to win, so I Had trouble focusing on the final 5 throws.
“After my first throw I wanted to set my personal best (62.34), but I didn’t. That’s why I am a little disappointed with my result.”
The day’s competition concluded on a high note with the running of the men’s 3000 metres Final and another excellent performance by Augustine Kiprono Choge, who crossed the line in 7:52.53, despite the pouring rain that had once again returned to Sherbrooke in the late afternoon. He said afterwards, “The race went the way I wanted it to. Maybe the weather interfered, but I have a gold medal and that is what I was looking for.
“I had to win this competition because many people of Canada wished me success. Tonight we will celebrate, the Ethiopians and South Africans and Burundi and even the Canadian boy who encouraged me to run well.”
Detailed event reports are available in the News/Event reports section of this special World Youth Championships site.