Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World Championships - Day Four and Five

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Pretty quiet the past couple of days. The big highlight was Sanya Richards finally getting the "monkey off her back" by winning her first global gold medal after being ranked #1 in the event for the past 5 years. A beautiful race, she finally ran "her" race and beat the field decisively in a world leading 49.00.

Of course it seems with this meet that for every up moment there is a down one, and yesterday we got the news that Tyson Gay was withdrawing from the 200 - which meant we would not get another Tyson Gay / Usain Bolt match up. Bummer, because so far that's been the real highlight of these championships.

Bolt and the other sprinters did run the opening round and quarterfinals of the 200 meters with no major casualties. Likewise the men ran the opening round of the 400 meters where we are awaiting the next big match up of this meet - Lashawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner.

Day four finished up with a US 1,3 in the men's 400 hurdles as Kerron Clement defended his title with a world leading 47.91 with teammate Bershawn Jackson taking the bronze. But perhaps the real star of the event was young Jehue Gordon (TRI). Just 17 years old he was just a hair from the bronze medal as he finished in 4th place in 48.26. A World Junior Record, Trinidadian national record and only .03 from the bronze medal - and he will still be eligible to compete at the World Junior Championships NEXT year!

Day five was a big day for qualifying rounds, with only a handful of finals - and few medals for the US. The Discus saw an upset win for the host nation as Robert Harting came through with a personal best 227' 9" inch throw to take the gold. Bernard Lagat got the days lone medal for the US with a bronze medal in the 1500 meters. In what became somewhat of a tactical race, Lagat found himself boxed in coming down the backstretch and around the final turn. He was able to unleash his kick down the homestretch but had given up too much ground to the leaders. Interviewed later, he indicated that he was ready to give it everything he has in the 5000 as he was very disappointed with his finish. Look for Lagat to be a serious contender in the 5000 final.

Another disappointment occurred in the women's 100 hurdles when Olympic champion and favorite Dawn Harper clipped an early hurdle and never recovered - finishing in an uncharacteristic 7th place. Teammate Virginia Powell was only 1 place ahead of her in 6th place as Jamaican Brigitte Foster Hylton took the gold in 12.51.

Day Five ended with another teenager making waves, as South African Caster Semenya devastated the women's 800 field. Leading the first lap in a rather torrid 56.83, she then "stepped on the gas" and ran away from the field never looking back! Her margin in the stretch was some 15 plus meters as she ran a personal best and world leading 1:55.45 with defending champion Janeth Jepkoskei a well back 1:57.90 in second place!

Tomorrow the pace will quicken - literally - with finals in the men's 200 and 110 hurdles, along with the women's 400 hurdles and a showdown in the women's high jump between Arianne Friedrich and Blanka Vlasic. Should be a good day of competition.

For results and schedules check here.

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