Friday it was the field events that were sizzling. Today that heat went back to the track as we had some stellar track performances headed by Sally Pearson and Usain Bolt who put down some outstanding times in a meet that has been devoid of fast times.
It got started with the men’s 1500 meters. Once again as the gun went off for the men’s 1500 meters the runners settled into a slow pace. New Zealand’s Nick Willis towed the field through pedestrian splits of 60.02 & 2:01.71 before the Kenyans finally took over heading into the bell lap. Silas Kipligat (KEN) took off down the backstretch as he passed the 1200 meter mark at 2:57.01 – teammate Asbel Kiprop hot on his heels. With 200 meters to go Kiprop took over and coming off the final turn it was Kiprop and Kipligat heading down the stretch to gold and silver. Behind them emerging from the pack Matt Centrowitz (USA) swung wide and kicked his way to a shocking bronze medal. Kiprop rode his tall frame to a sizzling 51 second final lap to become Kenya’s first ever World Champion to add to the Olympic gold he won in Beijing. I still can’t understand how distance runners play so easily into the hands of superior athletes. Clearly the Kenyans were the superior kickers yet challengers such as Willis (3:31.79 on the year) refuse to take the race to the kickers to try to burn them out. Chief beneficiary this time around was Centrowitz who was allowed in the race and took advantage with a kick of his own to medal.
3:35.69 – Asbel Kiprop (KEN)
3:35.92 – Silas Kipligat (KEN)
3:36.08 – Matt Centrowitz (USA)
The women’s 4x4 relay promised to be one of the highlight events of the day. The U.S. surprised with Sanya Richards Ross running the lead off leg against Antonina Krivoshapka (RUS) and Shericka Williams (JAM) as the top three teams lined up for the gun. Richards Ross handed off ahead of Russia as Allyson Felix took off down the backstretch in the lead. Russian Natalya Antyukh looked to close over the first 300 but Felix opened back up down the stretch and handed off with about a 10 meter lead. Jamaica overtook Russia to move into 2nd but Jessica Beard retained the lead as she handed off to Francena McCorory who went sailing away with a lead of around 12 meters that she would never relinquish. She tied up a bit in the final 50 meters but was well out in front with no chance of being caught. Behind them the Russians were looking to overtake Jamaica but no such luck as the U.S. lead from gun to tape winning in 3:18.09 in a much better performance than their male counterparts left on the track yesterday. The race was deep with 3 teams under 3:20 – Jamaica setting a National record. And finally in her third try Allyson Felix came away with gold in this meet – after silver in the 400 and bronze in the 200.
3:18.09 – United States
3:18.71 – Jamaica
3:19.36 – Russian
Things promised to stay hot as the women took the track for the 100 hurdles because Sally Pearson (AUS) settled in the blocks hot off a 12.36 run in her semi – making her the world’s #5 all-time performer! The question was would anyone be able to challenge the fast starting Australian. The answer was a resounding NO as Pearson burst from the blocks, was first to the first hurdle, and was never headed as she flew to a 12.28 win to move past Gail Devers (USA) and Grazyna Rabstyn (POL) to become the 4th fastest hurdler in history! Behind her the American hurdlers were attempting to get in the race and challenge, but to little avail. Kellie Wells pressed early and went down in mid race as Danielle Carruthers (USA) and Dawn Harper (USA) ran to a virtual dead heat for silver and bronze. In any other race they would have been vying for gold, but Pearson ran a superb race and it would have taken a nearly superhuman effort to overtake her. She’s only the 4th woman ever to run under 12.30 and those ahead of her were all members of what was once called the Eastern Bloc during the days of extensive state sponsored PED use. In some respects Pearson may have run the fastest “legal” hurdle race of all time.
12.28 – Sally Pearson (AUS)
12.47 – Danielle Carruthers (USA)
12.47 – Dawn Harper (USA)
But there was still more to come on the track because while the crowd still cheering the sprinters started to warm up for the 200 meters as Usain Bolt (JAM) got ready to run his first final of this meet. Bolt started in lane 3 with Walter Dix (USA) just outside him in lane 4 and Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) out in lane 6. At the gun Bolt went immediately after Walter Dix as he began to eat into the stagger, taking him off the turn with a meter and a half lead. Dix tried mightily to stay with the big sprinter but Bolt began to pull away as Lemaitre, who had come off the turn in 4th began his charge down the stretch. Dix and Lemaitre ran gallantly with Dix just .01 off his PR and Lemaitre setting a new French record. But Bolt was clearly out to make up for his DQ in the 100 as he ran to the 4th fastest time ever. If these men want to challenge Bolt they must get better on the turn, because right now only Tyson Gay is in Bolt’s league on the turn. And once off the turn and Bolt opens up his stride it’s simply a wrap.
19.40 – Usain Bolt (JAM)
19.70 – Walter Dix (USA)
19.80 – Christophe Lemaitre (FRA)
One day of competition left and expect these three men to be right in the mix once again as two of the final events on the track will be the men and women’s 4x1 relays. The U.S. and Jamaica are always in the thick of things and France has moved into medal contention with Lemaitre beginning to star for them. The other feature event on the closing day should be the 5000 meters with Bernard Lagat (USA) and Mo Farah (GBR) going head to head with the Kenyan and Ethiopian contingents. The Kenyans have been having an outstanding meet and will certainly be looking to hold off any upsets. The triple jump should also produce some excitement as the field has a lot of young talent looking to break through – something that has happened several times already in this meet. One more day of getting up at 2am!
- Women’s Hammer
- Men’s Triple Jump
- Men’s 5000 meters
- Women’s 800 meters
- Women’s 4x1 relay
- Men’s 4x1 relay