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TAFWA Award

Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Field Announcer At Outdoor Nationals

Dave HunterAt the 2019 USATF Track & Field Outdoor National Championships Dave served as the Field Announcer for the Men’s Discus and the Women’s Javelin.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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Last Night In Doha!  2019 IAAF                                                         World Athletics Championships

Joshua Cheptegei, 2019 10,000 meter World Champion

October 6th, 2019

Doha, Qatar


The men’s 10,000 meter run was one of many finals on the 10th and final day of the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships. With the men’s marathon having been held the night before – at midnight, no less – there was no chance for the often-attempted marathon/10,000m double. This 10,000 meter final would be more pure, consisting mainly of 10K specialists and only two athletes doubling back from the 5000 meter races held earlier in this gathering.

Because global 10,000 meter finals are almost always tactical affairs, world-leading clockings are of limited assistance in attempting to project world championship performances. Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet is #1 on the world leader board with a 26:48.78 clocking he notched in winning the loaded Hengelo race earlier this year by beating a number of athletes who will competing in this 25-lap final. The 22-year-old Yomif Kejelcha, #3 on the WL list at 26:49.99, is an incredible young talent who could well be a factor in this final. Rodrigue Kwizera [#4 on the WL], Ethiopian Andamiak Belihu [#5 on the WL], and Switzerland’s Julien Wanders [#10 on the WL] all could contest for the medals. Leonard Korir and Lopez Lomong, the two Americans, lack the flashy impressive sub-27 minute clockings, but could become quite influential in a tactically-paced race.

As the final unfolded, 20 athletes were bunched behind early leader Uganda’s Abdallah Mande who paced the field through the first two kilometers in 5:27. By 3K [8:08], Kenyan Ronex Kipruto led the closely-packed field with Gebrhiwet in 2nd and Ethiopia’s Belihu in 3rd. Kipruto continued to dictate the tempo with kilometer splits in the low 2:40’s until Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei took over the lead just before 6K [reached in 16:16]. The Ugandan’s pacing was short-lived as his Kenyan rival recaptured the front position, picked up the pace, and led a pack of 8 [including Cheptegei, Kenya’s Rodgers Kwemoi, USA’s Lopez Lomong, Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed, Gebrhiwet, Belihu, and Kejelcha] through a 7th kilo in 2:40 [18:56] – the fastest of the race. Kipruto continued pacing the lead pack, now dwindled to 6, until Cheptegei took over just before 9 kilometers reached in 24:20 [2:40]. With the real racing now underway, Kipruto struggled to stay with the two leaders – Cheptegei and Kejelcha – as the trio entered the bell lap. The lead duo battled side-by-side as they raced down the backstretch, with the Ugandan clinging on to a slight advantage as they rounded the final curve for the homestretch showdown. A look back by Kejelcha with 80 meters remaining was the telltale signal that the Ethiopian was letting go as Cheptegei sailed on for the victory, crossing the line in 26:48.36, the 2nd fastest winning time in world championship history. Kejelcha crossed 2nd in a personal best clocking of 26:49.34 while pacing workhorse Kipruto [26:50.32] captured the bronze.

At the post-race press conference, Kejelcha outlined the last lap fight for the gold medal. “I think I had the right plan. Cheptegei is a very strong man and I tried to run with him. It was my pleasure to run with him. I wanted to win a medal at my first 10,000m final and I did everything to be competitive. I did not go too early it was the right time, but Joshua was faster. I was trying to hold him off, but it is not easy because he is a very strong athlete and has a strong sprint. So I had to be strong on the last lap. It is never over till you reach the finish line.”

For the new champion, the victory was especially sweet. Two years ago at London’s world championships, Cheptegei captured the silver medal in the men’s 10,000 meter final, just 0.45 seconds behind by the legendary Mo Farah, a multiple-time Olympic and world champion. “At the last edition of the World Championships in London I learned a lot of things from all the other athletes. I came to these championships with two plans. Plan A, and if that wasn’t going to work, I had plan B and plan C,” explained the reigning world cross country champion. “This was plan A. So it was really successful for me.” The Ugandan world champion shared his pathway leading up to these championships. “My season has been great. Since I started the season it has gone well for me. I spoke to my coach and he supported me with advice and made me believe in myself. And then there have been a lot of achievements from the world cross country when I was maybe 50 per cent fit, and then the track season, of course. I didn’t run in the Diamond League for the whole of 2018 after an injury, although I had the Commonwealth Games. It was only after this year’s Diamond League final that I thought I could win the World Championships. And here I am today. It really was a fantastic achievement.”

As for the Americans, Lopez Lomong was up front in the later stages of the race but he was unable to summon the close over the final kilometer that would thrust him into the mix for a medal. He would finish 7th in a personal best of 27:04.72. Lomong’s teammate Leonard Korir, finished 13th in 28:05.32.

 

 

Last Night In Doha!                                                         2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

 

Lelisa Desisa Is The First Ehiopian World Marathon Champion Since 2001

Doha, Qatar

October 5th, 2019

Day Nine of these 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships featured many anticipated finals. Miles away from the festive crowds and bright lights of Khalifa International Stadium, 73 intrepid distance runners were preparing to compete in one of those finals: the men’s marathon to be staged along Doha’s famous Corniche, one the most striking city backdrops in the Middle East.

The loop marathon course set out for both genders is really striking. The start line is set 195 meters behind the finish line which is situated right in front of covered VIP seating accommodations. After the opening 195 meters, the competitors navigate 6 repetitive loops of the 7 kilometers. The 42.195 kilo Corniche course – a flat, freshly-paved roadway – would normally be a track conducive to fast times – except for the expected incredible heat.

But after a week of barely tolerable weather with temperatures approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity, the athletes competing in the men’s marathon received a break. As if through divine intervention, race day arrived with the usual high temperatures, but with humidity levels of 45% - as opposed to the 85% humidity that plagued the women’s marathon. Perhaps the men would race in weather conditions that were merely challenging, not impossible.

There had been much pre-race speculation about which marathoners should be viewed as favorites. While all entrants were expected to struggle in the heat, no one doubted that the East African and Middle Eastern athletes who live and train in sultry, steamy environments would be better suited to perform more near their potential in these oppressive weather conditions.

Just before midnight, the men’s marathon got underway as the field launched out into the darkness. Immediately, Paraguayan athlete Derlys Ayala went to the lead and broke away from the field. By 1 kilometer [15:06] the 29-year-old had a one minute lead. Meanwhile the chase pack of nearly 50 was led by 2-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa. With water bottles and sponges flying at every aid station, the chase horde kept the Paraguayan pacesetter in sight as the leader hit 10K in 30:40. The top competitors joined Desisa at the front of the chase pack, including former Olympic and world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich, defending champion Geoffrey Kirui, Scottish marathon record holder Callum Hawkins, and Ethiopian Geremew, fresh off his 2:02:55 runner-up finish in last spring’s London Marathon.

The occasional front running breakout and several lead changes at the front of the chase pack ensued until just around the one hour mark when 37-year old Eritrea athlete Zersenay Tadese threw down the first decisive move of the race. The 4-time world half marathon champion’s surge strung out the pack and Ayala’s lead was quickly reduced to 43 seconds. During the 69th minute and just before the end of lap 3, Tadese and 5 others swooped past Ayala and into the lead. Minutes later and just before reaching the half marathon mark Ayala, who reportedly ran a 2:10 marathon just two weeks prior to this championship race, called it a day and walked off the course.

Tadese’s bold move coalesced a pack of 6, a front-running group that represented those with serious medal ambitions. At 25 kilos, the leaders were Tadese, the Ethiopians Desisa and teammate Geremew, Kenyan’s Kirui and Amos Kipruto, and South African Stephen Moroka. One minute back and chasing the leaders was a 2nd group led by Great Britain’s Hawkins. By 30K reached by Tadese’s gang of 6 in 1:33:13, Hawkins’ chase group had the cut margin to 13 seconds. The real racing was underway. At 35 kilos, Moroka was now in the lead as the front pack had dwindled to 5 with the Kirui sliding away to 9th. The defending champion would eventually finish 14th

Shortly after the bell rang at the start of the final 7 kilometer circuit, Tadese, the athlete whose bold move inspired serious racing nearly an hour before, lost contact with his lead group that had been whittled down to the South African Moroka, the Kenyan Kipruto, and the Ethiopians, Geremew, and Desisa. At 37 kilos, Desisa, sensing the endgame was here, moved into the lead. In the final 5 kilometers, the four leaders cautiously eyed one another, assessing the strength of their opponents and plotting their closing moves. But there was another athlete on the move. Quietly, Hawkins passed the struggling Tadese and set sail for the lead quartet just seconds away. The Scot was not yet done.

With less than 2 miles remaining, Hawkins not only caught the lead quartet, but he unhesitatingly moved through the pack to grab the lead. At 40 kilometers passed in 2:04:24 with little more than a mile remaining, it was 4 Africans and the Scot poised to battle for the medals. The South African was first to lose contact and shortly thereafter Hawkins, spent after his long heroic grind to the front, let go next. Sensing weakness, the veteran Desisa made the decisive move that would drop Kipruto, prompting finish line cheers from the Ethiopian contingent which knew it would now have the first Ethiopian marathon gold medalist since 2001. But who would it be – Desisa or Geremew? One final turn of the screw by Desisa forced separation from his countryman as the 2013 world champion runner-up would at last cross the world championship finish line first [2:10:40] for the gold. 4 seconds later Geremew crossed 2nd followed by Kipruto [2:10:51] in 3rd. Great Britain’s Hawkins [2:10:57] was dealt a cruel outcome, once again finishing 4th, just missing a medal as the Brit did with his 4th place finish in the 2017 world championships. Moroka [2:11:03] hung on for 5th. "It was hot, but I prepared perfectly for this race," said the new champion afterwards. "I am very tired. But after I took silver in Moscow, this time I kept my power better." A crestfallen 4th place finisher, Hawkins shared his feelings. Maybe I just gave too much in the middle stages. But I couldn’t do any more.”

As was the case in the women’s marathon, a good number of the top U.S. men marathoners elected to bypass these world championships either to compete later this fall in more lucrative marathons staged in more accommodating weather conditions or to engage in additional, focused preparation for the USA Olympic marathon trials at the end of February, or both. The American trio of Ahmed Osman, Elkanah Kibet, and Andrew Epperson performed nobly. Osman, who trains in Flagstaff, Arizona and ran a PR 2:14:40 to place 6th in the 2018 Chicago Marathon, was the first American across the line, finishing 23rd in 2:16:22. “I was just consistently trying to move my way up. I wanted to put myself in a good position which I did in the beginning,” said the San Diego native. “But I got cramps and I was just maintaining my place all the way to the end. I was in great shape coming in. It was just the weather conditions, you know? It’s not about the time. It’s just about competing.” Kibet finished 38th in 2:19:33 and Epperson crossed 46th in 2:23:11]. The American trio was among the 55 athletes of the initial starting field of 73 who finished this world championship final. / Dave Hunter /

 

Last Night In Doha!                                                                 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

Kenya's Kipruto (left) Edges Ethiopia's Girma For Steeple Crown

 

Doha, Qatar
October 4th, 2019

An anticipated highlight on Day Eight of these 2019 World Athletics Championships was the final of the men’s 3000 meter steeplechase. The complexion of this event was markedly different than in recent years of global contests due to the absence of American record holder Evan Jager who has been sidelined this entire year due to a nagging foot injury. Although Jager, a steeplechase medalist in both the ’16 Olympic Games [silver] and the ’17 world championships [bronze], was out of the picture, the superior quality of the field was beyond question as every single steeplechaser listed in the 2019 top ten world leader list was present for this global gathering and had made the final.

For many, the final was shaping up to be a showdown between two co-favorites. 23-year-old Soufiane El Bakkali, the ‘17 world championship silver medalist, came to Qatar with the world-leading mark of 8.04.82 and three 2019 Diamond League steeplechase wins to his credit, including one here in Doha in the Khalifa International Stadium. The other co-favorite, 19-year-old Ethiopian Getnet Wale, who upset Bakkali in the Brussels DL final, arrived with the #3 clocking [8:05.51] on the world leader list.

But another steeplechaser, not in this year’s top ten world leader list, nonetheless deserved some consideration. Although an aggravated foot injury kept Conseslus Kipruto out of competition until late in this extended season, the 24-year old Kenyan nonetheless came to Doha with glittering credentials: reigning Olympic and world championship steeplechase gold medalist; 16 Diamond League victories and 3 DL steeplechase championship wins, and a personal best of 8:00.12. But having competed in only 3 races this year, including a lackluster 7th place finish in the Brussels DL steeple final, Kipruto remained a mystery. Would he be a factor in this world championship final?

Shortly after the start of the steeplechase – a grueling 7½ lap event featuring 28 barriers and 7 water jumps – two Ethiopians, ’19 DL champion Getnet Wale and his young countryman Lamecha Girma, stormed to the front to lead the field through the first kilometer in 2:39.55 – sub 8:00 pace. The pace eased slightly as Girma hit 2 kilos in 5:22.95. Although the tempo – still on world leader pace – had worked to thin the field, a tight pack of Girma, Bakkali, and now Kipruto were still well positioned for the battle for the medals as the bell lap began. On the backstretch, 18-year-old Girma went first, uncorking a powerful sprint, his bid for the gold. Even Girma’s aggressive final water jump, clearing the water completely, was insufficient to shake Bakkali or the surprising Kipruto. The trio tore around the final curve for the drive down the homestretch. While Bakkali began to sag, a perfect final barrier clearance appeared to give Girma the slight edge he needed to capture the gold. But a relentless closing sprint by the crafty Kipruto positioned him for the all-important final drive to the line. A perfectly-timed lean at the finish was just enough to give Kipruto [world leading 8:01.35] the victory over Girma [8:01.36, an Ethiopian national record] by the slimmest of margins. Bakkali posted a season’s best 8:03.76] to capture the bronze. DL champ Wale [a personal best 8:05.21] was 4th while France’s Djilali Bedrani [a personal best 8:05.23] crossed next to round out the top 5.

Three Americans made the steeplechase final. Knowing that medals were unlikely, each hoped to run a competitive race that evidenced progression. 29-year-old Hillary Bor finished 8th in 8:09.33, just missing his PR clocking of 8:08.41 set at Doha’s Diamond League meet earlier this year. Stanley Kebeni finished 10th in 8:11.15, his best clocking this season. And former Indiana University athlete Andrew Bayer finished 12th in a personal best of 8:12.47. Standing with his steeplechase teammates in the mixed zone after the race, Bayer served as the spokesman. “Honestly my goal was to come in and finish in the top half of the field and break 8:10 in the final,” revealed the former NCAA 1500 meter champion. “I can look at places where I can still improve a lot. So I am excited to take a little break here and get ready for next year. This has been a really good learning experience. I’m frustrated that I was 12th, but it kind of lights the fire to be better next year. The goal here is to be vying for medals and we have a big jump to go there. But we start by seeing if we can get into that top 5. It’s great to be here with these guys [Bor and Kebeni]. It’s been a good time.”

/ Dave Hunter /

Last Night In Doha!                                                           2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

 

400m Champion Salwa Eid Naser Sees Her Winning Time

Doha, Qatar

October 3rd, 2019

On a day dominated by the concluding, second-day competition in the multi-events, one of the most anticipated track finals in this the 7th day of these world athletics championships was the women’s 400 meters. After a preliminary round on Day 4 followed by 3 semi-final heats the following day, the stage was set for what should be one of the most exciting track finals at these championships.

The final looked to be a showdown between USA’s Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain. As the only athletes to break 50 seconds in the early rounds, 2016 400m Olympic champion Miller-Uibo [semi winner in 49.66] and ’17 world championship 400m silver medalist Naser [semi winner in 49.79] were expected to lock horns in what was anticipated to be a titanic homestretch battle for the gold. USA’s defending champion Phyliss Francis [50.22 in her semi], her teammate Wadeline Jonathis [a personal best 50.07 in her semi], and the Jamaican athlete Shericka Jackson [50.10 in her semi] all stood ready to pounce if the two favorites would falter.

As the 400 meter final got underway, both Naser and Miller-Uibo got out quickly followed closely by the defending champion Francis. Yet none in that trio appeared to have a sizeable advantage as they entered the final furlong. But it was on the ensuing curve – that 3rd 100 meter segment – when Naser really went to work. Using her superior leg speed, Naser blazed around the bend. And just like that, the Bahraini athlete had forged a sizeable advantage – perhaps 10 meters – heading into the homestretch. Stunned by her rival’s lead, a startled Miller-Uibo attempted to mount a charge. And while the Bahamian athlete made initial inroads into Naser’s lead, the gap proved too large. Racing all the way through the finish line, Naser stopped the clock at 48.14 – the fastest 400 meter time by a woman in nearly 34 years. Miller-Uibo [48.37], soundly defeated, finished strongly as well for the silver while Jamaica’s Jackson finished in 49.47 – a superb mark that would normally win this event under ordinary circumstances – snared the bronze medal. PR’s by Jonathas [49.60] and Francis [49.61] earned the two Americans the 4th and 5th spots.

The quality and depth of this 400 meter final is breathtaking. The top 5 finalists all set personal best times. Naser’s jaw-dropping 48.14 is now #3 on the all-time world list, behind only Germany’s Marita Koch [47.60 set in 1985] and the Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova [47.99 set in 1983]. Miller Uibo’s mark of 48.37 now ranks 6th all-time just behind France’s Marie-Jose Perec [now #4 all time in 48.25 set in 1996] and the Soviet Union’s Olga Bryzgina [now #5 all time in 48.27 set in 1985].

Afterwards, every one of the stunned finalists acknowledged the special nature of this historic race. “I felt pretty good,” said 5th-place Francis as she analyzed her race. “I was just trying to get out. I fell a little back. I was hoping to finish stronger. I kind of lost form with 4-5 meters to go. But I came out with a PB.” Surprise 4th place finisher Waseline Jonathas saw the race as her opportunity to run a personal best time – and she did. “Shaunae and Naser were the targets. I knew it would be a fast race. And I knew I could get something out of this. I was pushing myself to the limit. I am happy.” / Dave Hunter /

Last Night In Doha! 2019                                            IAAF World Athletics Championships

 

 Dina Asher-Smith On The Way To Victory In Women's 200 Meter Final

Doha, Qatar
October 2nd, 2019

As Day Six of these 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships was devoid of any middle distance or distance events, the focus today is upon the only two track finals of the day

In the women’s 200 meter final, the question appeared to be this: Which of the winners of the preceding day’s semi-final races would prevail in the final? Would it be Great Britain’s sprint sensation Dina Asher-Smith, victor of semi-final #1 in 22.16? Or could one of the two American semi-final winners – Brittany Brown [winner of semi #2 in 22.46] or Anglerne Annelus [first in semi #3 in 22.49] – be able to pull off the upset?

The race was essentially over shortly after the gun. The Brit authored a terrific start [with the fastest reaction time at 0.138] and never looked back. After racing a great curve, Asher-Smith maintained magnificent turnover as she powered down the homestretch and hit the line in a season’s best 21.88 to set a new British national record, #2 on the world list. Dina Asher-Smith’s world championship 200 meter victory was the first ever by a British woman. A personal best 22.22 by the American Brown earned her the silver. And Swiss athlete Mujinga Kambundi got up for the bronze in 22.51. Annelus clocked 22.55 for 4th, and her USA teammate Dezerea Bryant was 5th in 22.63.

Grant Holloway Nears Victory In Men's 100H Final

In the men’s 110 meter hurdle final, the championship race featured all of the finest hurdlers in the world. 5 athletes appeared to have a realistic opportunity to stand on the top step of the podium: Jamaica’s Omar McLeod [the reigning Olympic and world champion, WL #4, and the winner of semi-final #2 in 13.08]; USA’s Grant Holloway [NCAA champion; SB of a world-leading 12.58; winner of semi #1 in 13.10]; France’s Pascal Martinot-LaGarde [#T5 on the WL list; runner-up in semi #2 in 13.12]; Spain’s Orlando Ortega [WL #3; winner of semi #3 in 13.16]; and the wily Authorized Neutral Athlete Sergey Shubenkov [2015 world champion; WL #T5; and runner-up in semi #1 in 13.18]. Rookie professional Holloway got the best start as he instantly bulled his way to the front. His start gave the Florida alum an advantage that he would never relinquish as he powered his way to the gold medal, crossing in 13.10. Meanwhile, behind the new champion full-contact hurdling was on display. Defending champion McLeod, who has developed an annoying habit of lane drifting to his right, was making frequent contact with the late-race hurdles as well as clearly making contact with and obstructing Spain’s Ortega on his right. The tangle crescendoed while both McLeod and the fast-finishing Ortega were clearing the 10th hurdle. A mid-air collision over the final barrier sent McLeod falling to the track and further impeding the Spaniard who was on his way toward either a silver or bronze medal. Unimpacted by the Jamaican’s bumping, it was Shubenkov [13.15] who crossed 2nd for the silver and Martinot-LaGarde [13.18] who finished next for the bronze. Spanish officials timely filed a protest citing McLeod’s obstruction and requesting the race be re-run – a remedy unprecedented at this level of global competition. Request for a re-run denied. The protest also requested in the alternative that Ortega be awarded a duplicate bronze medal - as was granted earlier in the day pursuant to the protest and request filed on behalf of Polish hammer thrower Wojciech Nowicki. Request for a duplicate bronze medal denied. Later on, Hurdle great Renaldo Nehemiah, well aware of and experienced with mid-race contact during hurdle contests, noted the unfortunate absence of any adequate remedy for those fouled in hurdle finals. He cited Ortega as “a casualty of the sport.”

After the race, the 2019 world championship 110H hurdle victor reflected on his new status as a professional and the earlier honors he had garnered in his very long season as a collegian-turned-pro. “When you step on the line, no one cares what you’ve done before,” declared the new champion, “It’s all about the here and now.” / Dave Hunter /

Last Night In Doha!                                                                2019 IAAF World Ahletics Championships                                                                                      

Doha, Qatar
October 1st, 2019


As a member of the media I am supposed to be impartial, not expressing any kind of support of enthusiam for a particular country or athlete. We journalists are supposed to be neutral - a like Switzerland. That said, as an American track & field fan I find it difficult to adhere to that required posture when the USA has three athletes - Donovan Brazier, Bryce Hoppel, and Clayton Murphy - poised to compete in the world championship final of the men's 800 meters.

Getting three American middle distance athletes into the men's 800 meter final doesn't happen all the time. In fact it has only happeded on one prior occasion. In 1995 Mark Everett, Jose Parrilla, and Brandon Rock represented the red, white, and blue in the championship race. None of them made the podium. No medals.

The USA's world championship medal harvest in the men's 800 meters has been meager indeed. In the 17 world championship gatherings since the initial championship in 1983, only three times have American men earned 800 meter medals: Everett [bronze in 1991], Ruch Kenah [bronze in 1997], and Nick Symmonds [silver in 2013]. The American women are only slightly better. The 2-3 finish by Raevyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson last night in the women's 800 meter final pushed the USA women's all-time world championship 800 meter medal count to 5: 2 bronzes for for Alysia Johnson Montano [in 2011 and in 2013]; a silver for Brenda Martinez [in 2013]; and a silver for Rogers and a bronze for Wilson last night.

And you will note: In the world championships no golds have been earned by American half milers of any gender. Ever. In the 17 world championships and heading into tonight's competition, the IAAF has awarded 99 medals to the various 800 meter athletes who have made the podium. Eight - 8! - have been earned by American medalists. 5 bronze and 3 silver. And no golds. Could this be the night? It's time.


The men's 800 meter final got underway as expected with Puerto Rico's Wesley Vazquez chargin to the front. His rush to the lead was a tactic that proved successful for him in winning his semi-final race. USA's Donovan Brazier tucked in behind the early leader with American Clayton Murphy on the rail in 4th. Vazquez led the field past 200 meters in 23.51 as the championship field got settled in. On the first lap homestretch, Vazquez continued to lead, completing the first circuit in a quick 48.99 and stretching his lead to 15 meters. With 300 meters to go, Brazier, stalking the Puerto Rican from the start, stepped it up and rushed into the lead. With 200 meters remaining, the American had quickly created separation from the field. With 150 meters to go, Bosnia's Amel Tuka began his charge, moving up to 2nd. But Brazier, not to be deined, powered unchallenged down the homestretch to hit the line in 1:42.34, a new championship and American record. Tuka [1:43.47] crossed 2nd for the silver. Kenya's Ferguson Rotich [1:43.82] finished strong for the bronze while USA's Bryce Hoppel [a PR 1:44.25] charged from off the pace to finish a surprising 4th.


The Americans shared their thoughts with the media in the mixed zone. Hoppel, the former University of Kansas athlete and NCAA 1500 meter champion who signed with Adidas earlier this summer, was overwhelmed by his success in the final. "If you would have asked me a few months ago or at the beginning of the season about finishing 4th at the world championships, I would have said, 'What are you talking about?' But this is kind of a sstorybook story for me. But now it has become a reality and I am kind of excited from it and will just try to get better and better.," shared Hoppel who was tantalizingly close to the bronze. "The medal was right there within reach. I am so glad that Donoan won the gold. I think it is a great thing for the sport and a great thing for the USA. I was just happy to be a past of the whole rce and the experience." When asked what he needs to do to reach the posdium, the former Jayhawk sadi, " I think confidence is the bedrock of that. Now that I've been here, I'm looking forward to next season. I thik I need to work a little bit on the speed. Being out of postion doesn't make me happy. I like to be up in the pack at all times. That's probably gpoing to be one of the things I'll work on."


Clayton Murphy, who suffered through a last lap meltdown to finish last in 1:47.84, was clearly devastated by the bombshell announcement earlier in the day that Alberto Salazar, his Nike Oregon Project coach, was found guilty by abitrators of doping violations and hab been given a 4-year ban from the sport. Peppered by the mixed zone press for his reaction to Salazar's ban and its conseqeunces on his relationship with Salazar and the NOP, the reignng Olympic 800 meter bronze medalist provided a frank response. "I really don't know what happened with Alberto. Everything with that happened before I was in the camp," said Murphy. "I never had any kind of pressure from Alberto; never took anything; never was asked to do anything away from the camp. I've always competed clean. Everything that happened was before I was a part of the team." The multiple-time national champion made it clear he has not yet considered how today's news would impact, if at all, his relationship with Salazar and the NOP. "I've completely focused on tonight. And I would say it was a poor performance tonight." It is clear that the ill-timed release of the arbitrators' decision will prove to be an ongoing distraction for Salazar's athletes for the remainder of these championships.

Donovan Brazier - also a Nike Oregon Project athlete, but coached by Peter Julian, not Salazar - shared his thoughts on his record performance which took down the the American 800 meter reocord: the 1:42.60 clocking set by Johnny Gray in 1985. "Pete Julian told me that Vazquez is going to take it out hard and to stick with him, make my move, and take full responsibility whether I finish strong or die," revealed the new American record holder and world champion. "The payoff means a lot to me with the time and the record." / Dave Hunter /

Last Night In Doha!                                                                                     2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

Ethiopia's Muktar Edris Successfully Defends His 5000 Meter Title

In the Mo Farah era, the men's 5000 meters was simple and orderly. You knew outcome before the final got underway. You'd seen this movie before. You hung around to find out who had the 2nd best kick in the world.

But with the departure of Sir Mo - the winner of 10 gold medals in global championships Olympic and World - world class 5000's have greatly changed. Suddenly, the 5000 finals are tossups, a 'you pick 'em' affair. A number of people are candidates to make the podium or even the top step. And at these world championship you have what many are calling a mixed bag of distance talent: 3 youthful brothers - Henrik, Jakob, and Filip: Team Ingebrigtsen - racing every time you turn around and comprising 20% of the 5000 final field; you have reigning Olympic 5000 metes silver medalist USA's Paul Chelimo with a personal best of 12:57.55; you have another sub-13:00 performer in Nicholas Kimeli of Kenya; you have Ethiopis's Selemon Barega, the #4 all-time 5000 meters performer on the strength of his stunning 12:43.02 5K victory in the 2018 Brussels Diamond League final just over a year ago; and you have Ehtiopian Muktar Edris, the man who took down Farah to capture 5000 meter gold in these championships two years ago. Just like a breath of fresh air, the drama is back is back in the men's 5000 meters.

The rhythmic cheering of the rabid Ethiopian spectators started early in the evening and reached a crescendo as the men's 5000 meter final got underway. USA's Hassan Mead, who would eventually finish 11th, grabbed the early lead and clocked 61 seconds for the opening lap. Unlike many cat-and-mouse finals, the pace was solid as Chelimo, the USA's other finalist, then led the closely-bunched pack through the first kilometer in 2:39. 19-year-old Ethiopian Selemon Barega then moved to the front of the tight pack as the pace quickened, with all of the contenders passing 2K's in 5:14. After a mid-race 1600m in a hot 4:09, the Ethiopian contingent momentarily ceded the lead to Chelimo who passed 3K in 7:53 with the top 10 athlietes all bunched within one second. In the 4th kilometer, reached in 10:33, the tempo eased yet again as the combatants braced for a furious final dash for the medals. With 3 laps remaining Canada's Mohammed Ahmed bolted into the lead and threw down a 60.9 lap to trim the lead pack from 10 to 5 and to signal the start of serious racings. With 300m to go, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who had been lingering in the back of the lead group, sped into the lead, his tactical final drive for the win. Quickly the Ethiopian duo of Edris and Barega gave chase while Ahmed stayed close and Chelimo fell back. In the final furlong, a spent Ingebrigtsen [13:02.93] lost the lead with 150m to go and eventually faded to 5th. Edris [a season's best 12:58.85] won the homestretch battle over Barega [12:59.70] while Ahmed [13:01.11] finished strong for the bronze. Bekele [13:02.29] crossed next to give the Eithiopians a 1-2-4 finish to the delight of their rowdy fans.

It was a tough night for the Ingebrigtsen brothers: Filip DNF'd; Henrik finished 13th; and Jakob's valiant bid for a medal saw him fade to 5th. "We are going back to work hard toward our next race," said the 19-year-old Norwegian. The reigning European champion at 5000m will be back out on the track for the preliminary round of the men's 1500 meters on Wednesday.

American hopeful Paul Chelimo, who finished 7th in a season's best of 13:04.60, was frank about his race. "I was in it all the way to the last lap. So I can't be too hard on myself," said the reigning Olympic 5000m silver medalist, "I tried my best. I went all the way to the last lap with them [the Eithiopian contingent]. In the last lap, I didn't have it. It is what it is, you know?" The '12 Olympic bronze medalsit at 5000m cited some training distractions. "I'm a family man. I have a baby daughter. That threw things a bit - training and everything-wise. I can't complain. I competed and gave it all out there." The 5-time national champion offered a concluding comment before departing: "But I'll be back." / Dave Hunter /

In other Day Four finals:

w3000SC: World leader and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech [8:57.84] led wire-to-wire to capture steeplechase gold and atone for her '17 championship water jump gaffe. Defending champion Emma Coburn ran a heady race in the chase pack and her surge over the final two laps earned her a PR clocking [9:03.35] and the silver medal. Germany's Gesa Krause [9:03.30] unfurled a magnificent kick to get up for the bronze.

w800m: Ugandan athlete Halimah Nakaayi [1:58.04] uncorked a homestretch drive that carried her past USA front-running American recod holder Ajee Wilson for the gold medal. A strong surge over the final 60 meters lifted USA's Raevyn Rogers [1:58.18] into 2nd, while Wilson [1:58.84] hung on for the bronze.

m400H: In a much-anticipated showdown, Norway's Karsten Warholm [47.42] rode a blazing start to an early lead and had the best homestretch drive as he successfully defended his world championship 400H title. USA's Rai Benjamin [47:66], who led briefly on the backstretch but had no answer to Warholm's stretch drive, finished 2nd. Qatari athlete Abderrahmane Samba [48.03] delighted the partisan crowd by capturing the bronze.

Last Night In Doha!                                                                 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

PhotoRun

Doha, Qatar
September 29th, 2019

Not all of the action on the track involves distance events. We must pay homage to the other types of competitions that take place on the 400 meter oval. And Day Three of the 2019 IAAF Outdoor World Championships proves to be a good opportunity to do just that.

The evening started out with the preliminary round of the men’s 200 meter dash as 53 sprinters from various countries who had met the world championship qualifying standard did battle in the first of three rounds of the 200 meters. To advance to the semi-finals, an athlete would need to finish in the top three of his heat [there were 7] to automatically advance to the semi-final round which will be held Monday. The next 3 overall fastest times – essentially “not automatic qualifiers” – would also advance on time to round out the semi-final field to 24. The fastest time of the evening was a sparkling 20.06 by Great Britain’s Adam Gemili, the winner of Heat One. The slowest automatic qualifying time was 20.52. If an athlete was not a top 3 finisher, it took a clocking of 20.44 to advance as one of the 3 time qualifiers. USA’s Noah Lyles who has the world’s fastest 200m time this year of 19.50, finished 2rd in his heat in 20.26. Defending world champion Ramil Guliev of Turkey was an automatic qualifier posting a mark of 20.27. It may well take a sub-20 second time to gain a spot on the podium. The quest for the medals resumes with tomorrow’s semi-final round.

Next up on the track was the semi-final of the women’s 100 meter dash. After yesterday’s preliminary round, 24 athletes advanced to compete in the Day Three semi-final heats where the top 2 finishers in each of the 3 semi-final heats automatically advanced to the women’s 100 meter final later in the evening. They were joined by the next 2 fastest non-automatic qualifiers who also advanced to the 8-athlete final at the end of this evening. The fastest time of the semi-final round was 10.81 by Jamaica’s X-time Olympic 100 meter champion and current world leader [10.73] Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce To advance to the final, it took a time of 11.10. The 8 finalists then had approximately a two hour intermission before coming back out on the track to battle for the medals at the end of the evening.

As the evening moved along, it was time for the semi-final round of the men’s 800 meters. The semi-final proved to be a curious example of how important a thorough understanding of the system of advancement can be. In the first semi-final heat of the 2-lap event, the early pace, was insanely fast as the 8-athlete field split 200 meters in 23.11[?]. The early leaders ultimately faded, but not by much as Puerto Rican frontrunner Wesley Vazques won in what would be the evening’s fastest time of 1:43.96, followed by Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich [2nd in 1:44.20] and USA’s Clayton Murphy [3rd in 1:44.48]. With only the top 2 finishers in each heat gaining automatic qualifiers, Murphy was relegated to waiting out the final two heats to see if he would advance as one of the only two time qualifiers. As it turned out, none of the athletes in the last two heats ran faster than Murphy. So the reigning Olympic 800 meter bronze medalist did qualify for Tuesday’s final. By comparison, Great Britain’s Elliot Giles who clocked 1:45.15 in his semi-final – with the 7th fastest semi-final time and faster than 2 of the automatic qualifiers – did not capture a time qualifier and thus did not advance.

Next was a new event introduced in these world championships: the mixed 4 x 400 meter relay – an event featuring 2 men and 2 women each racing a lap around the track in any order the team might select. In the preliminary round held on Day One, the United States quartet of Tyrell Richard, veteran gold medalist Jessica Beard, Jasmine Blocker, and Obi Igbokwe rang-up a heat winning clocking of 3:12.42 which set a new world records in this nascent event. In this evening’s final, the USA inserted an entirely new lineup of Wil London, Allyson Felix, Courtney Okolo, and Michael Cherry. Racing in that order, the American squad notched an easy victory with an ebullient Cherry crossing the line in 3:09.34 to set yet another new world record. The victory also gave Allyson Felix – considered by many as the most versatile sprinter of all time – her 12th world championship gold medal, one more than legendary sprinter Usain Bolt. Allyson’s relay split of 50.2 just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter Camryn suggests she will still be a formidable force in the 2020 Olympic year.

The night was capped off by the women’s 100 meters final. After a dramatic, dimly-lit introduction of the finalists, the crowd in attendance at Khalifa International Stadium was treated to an electrifying 100 meter final. Wily veteran Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce executed yet another lightning-like start to gain an immediate advantage that she never relinquished. Never seriously threatened, the 2-time Olympic 100 meter champion hit the line in a world-leading time of 10.71 to capture her 4th world championship 100 meter gold medal and her 9th world championship medal overall, 8 of them gold. Her winning time ranks as the #6 all time performance and has only ever been bettered by 4 other women.

Day Four promises to feature more excitement on the track and in the field. The final of the men’s 5000 meters should be terrific. But don’t overlook the many other non-distance events on the oval which will be exciting as well. / Dave Hunter /

 

Dave Hunter is an award-winning journalist who is a U.S. Correspondent for Track & Field News. He also writes a weekly column and serves as Senior Writer for www.RunBlogRun.com, and covers championship track & field competition domestically and in such global capitals as Moscow, Birmingham, Zurich, Brussels, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Zagreb, and Ostrava. Hunter frequently serves as the arena or stadium announcer for championship track & field gatherings, including the Ivy League, the Big East, the Mid-American Conference, the NAIA, the Big Ten, and the Millrose Games. Hunter has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments.. He ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic Era. To find out more about Dave, visit his website: www.trackandfieldhunter.com He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Night In Doha!                                                                         2019 IAAF World Athletics Champions

 

Doha, Qatar
September 28th, 2019

The 10,000 meter final is always a war – a clash of race plans, differing views, special tactics, and novel strategies – all to be revealed as the race unfolds. Tonight’s final of the women’s 10,000 meter had every twist and turn in the book as the favorites tried to rattle their fellow competitors with easy paces; unexpected and irregular pace changes; different pack positioning; and finally a powerful – perhaps even desperate – late race surge in an attempt steal the crown in the waning laps.

22 world class athletes burst from the starting line as the 25 lap final got under way in air-conditioned comfort. Germany’s Alina Reh immediately went to the front as she towed the field through the first circuit in a leisurely 80 seconds. The field remained bunched as the pack went by 2 kilos in 6:20 – 31:40 pace. Shortly after 3 kilometers, Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru had seen enough and bolted into the lead as 5 other competitors covered her move. The lead pack of 6 quickly separated from the field as American hopefuls Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson, in 8th and 13th place respectively, were content to remain nestled in the chase pack. At the halfway mark hit in 15:32.70, the field was bunched once again as 7 athletes – with Kenya’s Agnes Tirop, Hellen Obiri, and Wanjiru, Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi, Netsanet Gudeta, and Letsenbet Gidey, and the pre-race favorite Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands – set the tempo with Americans Sisson (9th) Huddle (10th) 30 meters back. On the 17th lap, a momentary burst by Obiri only dropped Gudeta as the racing began in earnest. With the kilo pace dropping down the low 3’s, surging and lead changes were frequent as the 6 women fighting for the medals raced a 3:05 8th kilometer to reach 8K’s in 24:14. Suddenly, and without warning, Gidey threw down a decisive sprint with 3½ laps remaining. It was a tactic that surprised the others, especially the Hassan who was momentarily caught flat-footed. All in, Gidey, who came into this race as the world leader, knew this was her push for gold. A determined Hassan set sail after her Ethiopian rival, passing others along the way. A 65 second clocking on the penultimate lap powered the world record holder in the mile past Gidey just before the bell lap. Gidey clawed back as the duo battled down the final backstretch. But Hassan had one final gear and her downshift with 220 meters remaining proved to be the difference. With a closing lap in 61 seconds, Hassan crossed the line in a world-leading 30:17.62 while Gidey earned the silver in a personal best 30:21.23. Tirop rounded out the medalists, finishing 3rd in a personal best of 30:25.20. The Americans finished 8-9-10 as a late race close by USA’s Marielle Hall [personal best of 31:05.71] pushed her ahead of American record holder Huddle [31:07.24] and Sisson [31:12.56].

Fastest American Marielle Hall was upbeat about her 8th place finish. “I think the big goal was to make the Olympic standard. So I was so happy to accomplish that, to get that time, a PR. Personal and for me, my goal was to compete well against those running, because that is what I have to do to make the team next year, just taking a step forward at this stage. So I am really happy. I’m hoping I can improve on 8th place in the years to come.” Hall likes how she handled the end game. “With about 5 laps to go, I just felt like I was feeling good, ‘this is it’ kind of thing. Might as well try. It I die a little bit, hopefully I still get the time.” She did.

American record holder Molly Huddle, who aimed to be the top American finisher, was candid about this championship final. “I couldn’t beat Marielle today,” admitted the 8-time national distance champion. “I thought I could outkick her. I think I pushed a little too hard to catch the two girls in front of me. And in the last 100 it was just like not there.” Before departing, the Olympian commented on Hassan’s final 5000 meters covered in 14:44. “Unbelievable,” exclaimed Huddle. “I can’t match that.”

Mobbed in the mixed zone, the new champion reflected on Gidey’s rush in the final mile, “I know that is going to happen,” revealed the 2-time European champion. “I know they’re going to go; they’re going to kick; they’re going to pick up every last bit of speed to try and catch me. They have to do this. I would do the same if I was them.” The 26-year-old winner was candid about her plan going into the race. “I have no plan. My plan is to stay with them. And beat them at last. I am no longer just a runner. When the Kenyan tried to go hard, I was wishing just to stay with them and then kick the last lap. That was my plan.” Before leaving Sifan Hassan was asked about her participation in additional events at these championships. “I get asked that question a thousand times. I don’t know. I want to run the 1500 meters. My coach [Alberto Salazar] wants me to run the 5000 meters. We have to talk tonight.” Many are awaiting the outcome of that conference. / Dave Hunter /

Last Night in Doha! / Day One                                                  2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships

 

 

© Getty Images for IAAF'

Doha, Qatar   

September 27th, 2019

On Day One of the 10-day 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships, nearly 2000 athletes from 208 countries were poised to compete in the largest ever athletic gathering in this region of the world against the stunning backdrop of Doha, Qatar, a glittering metropolis that is reinventing the concept of 21st century global capital.

The only final – and the highlight – of the first day of these Doha World Championships was the women’s marathon.  In an effort to side-step impossible daytime weather conditions [dangerously steamy and hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures exacerbated by a relentless, blazing sun] the competition was purposely scheduled to begin at 11:59 p.m.  Late night weather conditions eased only slightly while temperature still hovered in the 90’s and oppressive humidity made for a hot and sticky race.  How tough was it?  Only 40 of the 70 world-class starters finished. 

Just before midnight, the first ever midnight marathon in global championship competition got underway on a beautiful and relatively flat 7 kilometer loop course on Doha’s Corniche adjacent to the Persian Gulf.  Caution was the watchword for the wiser athletes as the lead pack split 5K in 18:21, some 40-50 seconds per mile slower than the sparkling PR paces of the favorites. By 15K, passed in just over 54 minutes, a pack of 5 athletes all accustomed to warm weather racing began to pull away:  the Kenyan duo of Ruth Chepngetich and Visiline Jepkesho up front with their countrywoman and 2-time world champion Edna Kiplagat, Nambia’s Helalia Johannes, and Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo tucked in behind.  When these 5 hit halfway in 1:16:40 it was quite likely that, barring disaster, these 5 would ultimately battle for the medals. When the leaders passed 25 kilos in 1:31.01, Chepngetich, who earlier this year ran 2:17:08 to win the Dubai Marathon, was in command with Chelimo, Johannes, and Kiplagat gamely holding on while Jepkesho, who would eventually finish 15th, was sliding out the back door.  When the foursome crossed 35K with only one circuit remaining, it was the youngsters 25-year-old Chepngetich and 30-year-old Chelimo a step ahead of the two 39-year-old veterans Johannes and Olympic silver medalist Kiplagat.  On the final lap, Chepngetich – #3 on the all-time marathon list – put the hammer down.  With fireworks lighting the way, Chepngtich’s impressive surge carried her to the finish line 1st in 2:32:43 – the slowest winning time ever in a world championship marathon.  Johannes, 300 meters back, finished 2nd in 2:33.46.  Next was Johannes who crossed in 2:34.15 to snare the final podium position while the legendary Kiplagat just missed yet another world championship medal finishing 4th in 2:35:36.     

With the late-season scheduling of this championship gathering, many of the world’s better marathoners elected to bypass this competition in pursuit of more lucrative marathon racing opportunities later this fall and/or to concentrate on preparation for their country’s Olympic marathon trials.  The American athletes were no exception.  Yet a pair of USA women who did toe the line for this nocturnal global championship – Carrie Dimoff, and Roberta Groner – competed nobly.  Dimoff and Groner had long ago planned to run in tandem, racing conservatively with the goal of picking off overly-ambitious competitors in the race’s later stages.  It was a savvy strategy that worked well.  Running around 20th for the first half of this championship race, the duo went to work over the last three circuits with the veteran Groner [2:38:44]  eventually moving all the way up to 6th at the finish.  While Dimoff [2:44:35] couldn’t match her teammates closing surge over the final laps, the former Princeton athlete finished a strong 13th.  “It was just about what I expected,” offered Dimoff afterwards.  “It wasn’t that bad at first.  And after about halfway, I was pretty confident – we were moving toward the top 10; we’re moving on people; we’re running smart.  And we were just so excited.”  But it got tougher when Groner stepped it up and the duo separated.  “I always knew coming in to it that there was a chance it would be like that,’ admitted Dimoff.  “Oh man, I was like ‘it’s going to be lonely.  I’ve got a long ways to go.’  I knew I had to stay the course.  Even without picking up the pace, I knew  people would be coming back to me.” 

Animated and happy with her 6th place finish, Groner held court in the mixed zone.  “I don’t know if there really was a race plan other than work to cover the race and be smart,” admitted the mother of three.  “I didn’t have a race time in mind.  It was just sort of a ‘go out and fight and get a place’ kind of a race,”  said Groner, who works 40-hour weeks as a health care supervisor.  “We knew after the first two laps that we were in the top 20, then the top 15, then the top 10.  We just kind of worked our way down.  We knew then that there was a chance that not too many people were going to come up behind us.”

An ambitious schedule remains for the USA’s top finisher who plans to run the New York City Marathon in 5 weeks and the USA Olympic Marathon Trials at the end of February.  “New York was my fall race to begin with,” explained the New Jersey resident.  “But then they asked me to do World’s.  And that was a no-brainer.  How could I not represent our country?”  And then I said to myself, ‘Why can’t I do both.’  And before heading off, the 41-year old added , “This is my time.”  / Dave Hunter /

Dave Hunter is an award-winning journalist who is a U.S. Correspondent for Track & Field News.  He also writes a weekly column and serves as Senior Writer for www.RunBlogRun.com, and covers championship track & field competition domestically and in such global capitals as Moscow, Birmingham, Zurich, Brussels, Beijing,  Rio de Janeiro, Zagreb, and Ostrava.  Hunter frequently serves as the arena or stadium announcer for championship track & field gatherings, including the Ivy League, the Big East, the Mid-American Conference, the NAIA, the Big Ten, and the Millrose Games.  Hunter has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments..  He ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic Era.  To find out more about Dave, visit his website:   www.trackandfieldhunter.com  He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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