2017 IAAF World Championships Day 6: Three surprises, three disappointments
A day with a limited number of big-time finals means that you were relieved of my live blog for the day. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have an action packed day in Foggy London Town. The weather was dismal, a nippy 16 degrees celsius (57 degrees F), and most shots of the track looked like one of those famous mid-summer London Monsoons. This lead to some often-times sloppy racing, and some questionable tactics, especially in the men’s 5,000m.
Instead of rewinding a 3-hour live stream, I’ve condensed all the important stuff for you in some easy to read bullet points.
- Colleen Quigley in the steeple
After she finished, the Citius Headquarters was abuzz with how tactically sound Quigley ran. In a heat that went out painfully slow, Quigley stayed out of trouble in a tangle of women, navigating crowded barriers and taking the weather in stride. The top-5 from each heat would advance, and this one would come down to a sprint. She came around the final turn and moved into third place to secure an auto-qualifier. Or so we thought.
When the results flashed on the screen there was an obvious omission–Colleen Quigley. We’d learn that she stepped on the line coming around the turn after a water-jump, and the IAAF threw the book at her.
The question here is whether or not she gained a “material advantage” from her lane infringement. Anybody who watched the race can answer that one with a resounding “NO.”
No word yet on if a protest has been filed, but I expect we’ll get news on that shortly.
Quigley hasn’t had the same year she as she did in 2016 in terms of performance, but she’s currently ranked 19th in the world, and finished 8th in the Rio Olympic final. If her performance in the opening heat was any indicator, she would have had a pretty good crack at the field in the London final.
2. Wayde Van Niekerk
Wayde van Niekerk did not look good in the semi-final round of the men’s 200m today. He finished in 3rd place and only made it through on time.
This doesn’t bode well for the man going for the second gold medal in the 400/200 double. But can you blame the guy for maybe being a bit tired? This was the 5th straight day of racing for him between opening heats of the 400m and 200m, semi-finals of the 400m and 200m, and finals of the 400m.
With the 200m final tomorrow, we’ll see if he can turn it around to snag another gold in London.
3. Shaunae Miller-Uibo
The Olympic champion, who caused a lot of controversy with her perfectly-legal dive at the finish line in Rio, tied up bad at the end of the 400m final today and missed the podium.
Holy wow that last 30 minutes was bananas. Phyllis Francis ftw after Miller-Uibo falters in the final steps. pic.twitter.com/e11DNHtzTP
— Liam Boylan-Pett (@liam_bp) August 9, 2017
- Paul Chelimo–but also the entire men’s 5,000m
Paul Chelimo has a silver medal from the 2016 Olympics. He owns a 13:03 PR, and is ranked 10th in the world this year. He’s social media savvy. Citius Mag loves him dearly. That’s why we were collectively clutching our pearls as we saw Chelimo tangle legs with Joseph Menjo of Kenya and hit the track hard with four laps to go.
Chelimo, though, sprung up and immediately put himself back in contention. He finished outside of the auto-qualifying spot, but managed to sneak in on time. Here’s what he had to say about it:
This is the reason why I go out and push the race wire to wire cause there's crazy runners out there but all in all i'm in the finals😜
— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) August 9, 2017
Chelimo’s fall aside, the men’s 5000m was wet, and very physical. A 17-year old ran the fastest qualifying time. Two of three Americans made it through to the final, with Eric Jenkins missing out in a chaotic and crowded sprint finish. And Sir Mo Farah looked vulnerable. It’s going to be a whacky final.
2. ISAAC MAKWALA
Isaac Makwala had to run two 200m races today. The beleaguered Botswanan was the victim of a bunch of bureaucratic hand wringing after contracting food poisoning on Sunday. After withdrawing from the 200m opening rounds on Monday due to his illness, and being barred by the IAAF from entering the arena for the 400m semi-final, track’s governing body decided to cut the guy some slack and let him run.
That’s right, they put him in a one-man heat before the start of the running events today, and told him if he ran faster than 20.54, they’d put him in the semi-final. This was a cake walk for the world no.1 in the 200m. After he crossed the line in 20.19, he dropped to the track and did five push ups. He is the people’s champ.
Fast forward two hours and Makwala again lined up for a 200m, but this time with other people to race. He made it through to the final running 20.14.
In a world where Wayde Van Niekerk seemed all but destined to win a boring 200/400m double (boring because he’s far and away ahead of everyone else not named Makwala), Makwala is going to make this one a race. Diarrhea or not.
3. Women’s 400m
Allyson Felix opened up the first 200m aggressively, but Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas came out of the final curve in the lead, with Phyllis Francis and Naser of Bahrain closing hard. Felix dropped to 4th with about 50 meters to go, and it looked like the American sprint darling was going to finish off the podium.
And then Miller-Uibo pulled a hamstring, or stepped on a tack, or blew out an achilles, because fifteen feet from the finish line she pulled up lame, allowing Francis, Naser and then Felix to pass her.
So we have two surprises: Phyllis Francis, who took 5th in last year’s Olympics, is your gold medalist!
Second: That Allyson Felix would have finished 4th had it not been for Miller-Uibo’s freak injury.
HONORABLE MENTION: Your 400m hurdles champion is from NORWAY
Norway has never won a medal in the 400m hurdles and wouldn’t you know it, their first ever medal in the event is a gold. Kersten Warholm, Scandinavia’s new hero, took it out from the gun and came around the final curve with 2-3 steps on the field.
Kerron Clement, the Olympic Champ, had some work to do, but couldn’t make up any ground on Warholm. Clement would have to settle for a bronze.
Warholm, only 21-years old, seemed about as surprised as everyone else.