By David Melly
August 24, 2023
What’s better than watching a master of their craft absolutely dominate their competition? Watching them lose to an unexpected challenger, of course!
Even if you love Olympic champ Jakob Ingebrigtsen and get your kicks from watching him meticulously take apart field after field of 1500m men, you have to admit that his winning would’ve been a less exciting outcome than his losing. And when Josh Kerr became the second British miler in as many years to sit on Ingebrigtsen’s shoulder and blow past him on the homestretch, winning his first global championship in 3:29.38, it was a shocking outcome that people will be talking about for months.
It’s inarguable that this outcome was an upset, even for the most diehard of Josh Kerr fans. DraftKings put Ingebrigtsen’s odds at -650 and Kerr’s at +5000. Since losing in the World final in 2022, the Norwegian star has won 15 straight races and was undefeated on the season headed into last night. And with a handful of gold medals in European championships, World championships, and, of course, the Olympics, it’s hard to argue that Jakob needs rabbits to succeed.
Kerr is no slouch - he’s finished 1st, 5th, 3rd, and 6th at the last four global championships - but he’d never defeated Ingebrigtsen head-to-head before. Whether he’s your favorite runner or you learned his name last night, rooting for the underdog is simply fun. And adding that little extra dose of uncertainty into Ingebrigtsen’s resume just makes things more exciting headed into Paris next year.
There were a bunch of other thrilling finals last night, highlighted by Marileidy Paulino’s 48.76 win in the women’s 400m, Karsten Warholm reclaiming his World title in the 400m hurdles, and a shared gold medal in a thrilling pole vault. And we’re back in action tonight with a whole new handful of finals - pick an underdog and get behind them now while you can!
Join us LIVE on the CITIUS MAG YouTube at 8am E.T. for the Worlds Live Show featuring all interviews with all the biggest athletes, coaches, and media personalities of Budapest 23 and 4:00pm E.T. for the daily Post-Race Show featuring Chris Chavez, Kyle Merber, David McCarthy, Jasmine Todd, and Katelyn Hutchison unpacking all the action. You can also catch up on Day 5’s Live from Worlds featuring a very interesting conversation with 100-meter stud Fred Kerley if you missed it yesterday!
And you can catch up on CHAMPS CHATS below with the CITIUS team to hear our recaps, analysis, and breakdowns of Day 5 below, on YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.
What to Watch on Day 6
Finals: Men’s & Women’s 35km Race Walk, Men’s Long Jump, Women’s Hammer Throw, Women’s 100m Hurdles, Men’s 400m, Women’s 400m Hurdles
The women’s 100m hurdles is insanely stacked, with the 2019 and 2022 World champs facing off with the Olympic champ and the current world leader. Americans Keni Harrison and Nia Ali face off with Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan (unless some of the talented dark horses crash the party), and it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top or what order they’ll finish.
In the longer hurdles event, Femke Bol is the heavy favorite but it’ll still be fun to see how fast she can go. And the topsy-turvy men’s 400m final will be decided, and with the crazy combination of withdrawals, injuries, and unexpected outcomes we’ve already seen in the event this season, anything can happen.
We’ll also get semi-finals of the men’s and women’s 200 meters, which will set up truly epic conclusions to those exciting events, and our first peek at the men’s 5000m competitors, where Jakob Ingebrigtsen will surely be out for revenge.
Race of the Day: Men’s 400m Hurdles
After an injury-plagued 2022, Karsten Warholm had to settle for 7th in last year’s final of the men’s 400m hurdles and he had to watch while rival Alison dos Santos took the title away from him.
This year, he’s back on top, adding to his already-legendary resume with a 46.89 win over a talented and deep field. Dos Santos had to settle for fifth behind up-and-coming junior Roshawn Clarke in fourth, Rai Benjamin in third, and a surprising silver medal for Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands.
The race itself was a little unorthodox, with the usually hard-charging Warholm getting an uncharacteristically slow start and the conservative Benjamin getting out much harder. Places shuffled around several times throughout the race but Warholm’s veteran presence won out in the end, and Benjamin’s typically sublime closing hurdles looked rocky as he faded to third.
Warholm is likely the favorite to repeat his Olympic title performance next year now, and every time he toes the line, there’s always the possibility he breaks his own world record. But even the best fall down sometimes, and what makes them the best in the long run is the ability to get back up.
Athletes of the Day: Katie Moon and Nina Kennedy
Sharing a gold medal is rare, but it’s fitting that the first shared gold of Budapest is in the pole vault, where competitors are a famously close-knit and supportive group who help each other with technique, equipment, and moral support in and out of competition.
Katie Moon picked up her third straight global gold medal with a typically sublime 4.90m clearance, but the real surprise was Australian Nina Kennedy going jump-for-jump with her and ending up right at the top of the podium next to her. Technically, both competitors have to agree to share the gold rather than proceeding to a sudden-death jump off, but in an event that can be as long and grueling as the vault, retiring with a win and getting back to your family and a cold beer is, understandably, extremely tantalizing.
Kennedy is on the upswing, taking bronze in 2022 and setting her lifetime best (and an Australian national record) last night. With Moon’s teammate Sandi Morris hopefully returning to healthy training and top form next year and other up-and-comers like Kiwi Eliza McCartney and veterans like Brit Holly Bradshaw and Slovenian Tina Sutej still around, Moon’s next gold won’t be anything close to guaranteed.
Photo of the Day
Johnny Zhang captured the calm before the storm in the final of the men’s 400m hurdles, when Karsten Warholm briefly took flight before settling into his blocks.
Social Moment to Remember
World/Olympic champ Athing Mu’s custom bedazzled track spikes broke the Internet when she showed up to the first round of the 800m sporting the shiny pair. When asked in the mixed zone whether she put them together or her sponsor, she mysteriously replied, “None of the above!”
Report from the Mixed Zone
Props to Emma Coburn for always willing to be so open and vulnerable with the media and the public after going through a very difficult year. Here, she spoke about her injury struggles and her perspective following her 10th-place finish in the heats of the women’s steeplechase.
David began contributing to CITIUS in 2018, and quickly cemented himself as an integral part of the team thanks to his quick wit, hot takes, undying love for the sport and willingness to get yelled at online.