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World Championship Flashback!

Wightman Jake FH1 Worlds22
Jake Wightman becomes first Brit since Steve Cram to win WC 1,500m (that was in 1983), World Athletics Championships Eugene, Oregon, USA July15-26, 2022 1500 meter final, Wightman, GBR, New Balance, photo by Kevin Morris

July 19th, 2022

by Dave Hunter

It was another exciting session at Hayward Field on Day Five of the 2022 World Athletics Championship. But the day featured a different spin as new faces graced the podium, and some accomplished, seasoned performers were disappointed.

On the track, it was a tough day for the Norwegians. Even before the session got underway, Norway fans dressed in Viking garb gathered in visible areas of the stadium in anticipation of gold medal performances by their countrymen. But it was not to be.


 Wightman Jake FHH Worlds22

Jake Wightman delights the British Isles and all of Eugene with his 1,500m victory, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022
1500 meter final, Wightman, GBR, New Balance, photo by Kevin Morris

The final of the men’s 1500 meters featured an array of accomplished athletes who might win a medal. But Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, looking strong in the earlier rounds, was viewed by most as the favorite. As the race got underway, the early pace was peppy as Abel Kipsang, the 2022 world leader at 3:31.01, and Timothy Cheruiyot sped by 200m in 27.4 and 400m in 55.51. Did this fast start suggest that the men were taking a page out of the women’s 1500-meter playbook from the night before? With two laps remaining, Ingebrigtsen, the reigning Olympic champion at this distance, pushed into the lead as the frontrunners crossed 800m in 1:52.04. At the bell reached in 2:34, the front of the race was crowded as the field was beginning to wind up for the final lap of racing. At the top of the backstretch with the Norwegian still in the lead, Great Britain’s Jake Wightman moved up, seeking a position at the front of the pack. Ingebrigtsen and Wightman separated themselves from the rest, and the race was on. After the duo battled on the final curve, the twosome entered the homestretch with Wightman clawing into the lead. The Brit’s advantage grew, and 20 meters from the finish, the Norwegian glanced back over his shoulder, a signal that his race was lost. Wightman was the victor, hitting the line in a world-leading time of 3:29.23. The Norwegian crossed next in 3:29.47, with Spain’s Mohamed Katir capturing the bronze in 3:29.90.

Wightman’s win had a most unusual twist. Wightman’s father, Geoff, not only serves as his son’s coach, but he also is an accomplished announcer who was calling this world athletics final as his son fought on for the win. “Running is coming home,” broadcasted the father as his son neared the finish. “Wow. That is my son, and he is the world champion.” Afterward, the new champion shared his feelings. “I just had nothing to lose, so I took the risk, and it paid off,” said the winner. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I was 8 years old. Having my mom in the stands and my dad calling the race at the stadium, what else could I ask for?”

 DosSantos Alison R Worlds22

Alison Dos Santos wins the hearts of Brazil with his 400m hurdle win! World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022
400m Hurdles, Dos Santos, Brazil, photo by Kevin Morris

The concluding track event of the day was the final of the men’s 400 meter hurdles featuring 2-time world champion Karsten Warholm. The Olympic champion sustained a hamstring pull earlier in the season and his fitness level and the extent of his recovery were unclear. At the gun, the Norwegian got off to his usual rocket start, grabbed the early lead, and appeared to be moving well. Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos also got out quickly and was picking up speed on the back stretch. At halfway, the world record holder still was in command. But after racing around the curve and entering the homestretch, the Brazilian had the lead with USA’s Rai Benjamin moving into 2nd with Warholm noticeably laboring in 3rd. Dos Santos (46.29) raced on for the win with Benjamin (46.89) clinching the silver. Meanwhile, USA’s Trevor Bassitt (47.39), 6th entering the homestretch, made a furious drive for the finish. And with a well-time lean the American nipped France’s Wilfred Happio (47.41) at the line to finish 3rd and capture the bronze medal. Warholm faded severely and finished 7th. The ebullient victor gushed in the mixed zone. “I am so happy,” declared the world champion. “The energy of the crowd was amazing. I felt their love, people hugging me. When you win, you start being everyone’s favorite. Today I think I can drink soda!”

 Patterson Eleanor Worlds22

Emily Patterson takes gold in the HIgh Jump, in a big upset for the Aussie star, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022
high jump, Patterson, Australia, photo by Kevin Morris

The final of the women’s high jump was a terrific competition. And despite the absence of Americans in the final, the capacity crowd was fully engaged in what proved to be a stirring battle. Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the 2022 world leader at 2.03m/6’8”, appeared to have the best chance for the gold. Four high jumpers remained in the competition when the bar went up to 2.00m/6’6¾”. Mahuchikh and her Ukrainian teammate Iryna Gerashchenko along with Australia’s Eleanor Patterson, all cleared that bar on their 2nd attempt, while Italy’s Elena Vallortigara kept her card clean with yet another 1st attempt clearance. A critical turning point in the final took place when the bar moved up to 2.02m/6’7½. First, the Italian, with her clean card, failed in all of her three attempts at the new height, as did Geraschenko. And Mahuchikh needed two attempts to clear the new bar. The Aussie, who had 3 earlier misses at lower heights scattered on her card, set a new continental record when she was the sole remaining athlete to make a first attempt clearance at the new height, setting a new continental record. Just like that, Patterson had the gold medal position. With the bar then at 2.04m/ 6’8¼”, only Mahuchikh and Patterson were left. Mahuchikh failed on all three attempts but was extremely close to clearing her third jump, just nicking the bar off with her calf. The gold went to Patterson, the silver went to Mahuchikh, and the bronze was secured by Vallortigara. In the mixed zone, Patterson talked about her performance. “I knew I could bring a big performance,” said the new champion. “It has not been a smooth season in either way as I have had a lot of injuries. I have not competed much but to come here tonight, seeing all these phenomenal athletes doing so well, I am just so humble. I just could not believe I am the champion.

In the final of the men’s discus throw, the winner was Kristjan Čeh. The Slovenian has been on a recent tear, having set a new national meeting and DL record in Birmingham earlier this year. Čeh jumped into the lead on his 2nd attempt (69.02m/226’5”). But the real bombshell came in the 3rd round as the Slovenian hurled a magnificent throw of 71.13m/233’4”, establishing a new championship record and ensuring him the gold medal. The two Lithuanians both earned medals, with Mykolas Alekna (69.27m/227’3”), capturing the silver and his countryman Andrius Gudžius (67.55m/221’7”) earning the bronze. Čeh spoke with the media about his championship performance. “I knew that I have the ability for the big throw. But this was my first major championship, and I had various feelings from the beginning. Of course, the first throw was to secure the spot, but the best was the third with 71 meters,”” explained the winner. “It was a fast circle here, but everybody has the same conditions, and you just need to trust yourself. I did the best I could, and I also expected the two other guys to do very well.”

Trackside Tidbits

 McLaughlin Sydney Q Worlds22

Sydney McLaughlin moves to the semi final World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022
400 m hurdles, McLaughlin, USA, New Balance, photo by Kevin Morris

w400H / Prelim: The opening round of the women’s 400-meter hurdles resulted in no surprises as the heat outcomes followed form. The top performers were: Femke Bol, whose 53.90 was the fastest in this 1st round. The Netherlands athlete, #3 on the all-time world list and #2 on the 2022 world list, certainly looks ready to be in the medal hunt. USA’s Sydney McLaughlin, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, and the world record holder were clearly at ease as she won her heat handily in 53.95, well off her pending world record clocking of 51.41 of last month. Other top performers included Jamaica’s Janieve Russell (54.52), USA’s Shamir Little (54.77), USA’s Dalilah Muhammad, #2 on the all-time world list (54.45); and USA’s Britton Wilson, #3 on the 2022 world leader list, (54.54).

w200m / Semi-Final: In this semi-final round of the women’s 200 meters, there was no room for error as only the top two finishers in each heat would earn the automatic qualifier into Thursday’s final. Semi-final casualties included USA’s Jenna Prandini and Nigeria’s Favour Ofili. But there is a terrific field of finalists. Americans Tamara Clark (21.95) and Abby Steiner (22.15) will join Swiss athlete Mujinga Kambundi (22.05), Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (21.96), Nigeria’s Aminatou Seyni (22.04), and the Jamaican juggernaut of Shericka Jackson (with the best semi-final clocking of 21.67), Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce (21.82) and Elaine Thompson-Herah (21.97) in Thursday’s final. Query: Could the Jamaican trio of Jackson, Fraser-Pryce, and Thompson-Herah once again complete yet another sprint sweep at these World Championships?

m200m / Semi-Final:  The semi-final round of the men’s 200 meters started out on a sour note as USA’s Fred Kerley, the victor in the 100 meters earlier this week, sustained a cramp is his heat, finished 6th, and did not advance. The other 3 Americans will advance Ken Bednarek (19.84); Erriyon Knighton (19.77) and Noah Lyles (19.62) – the three fastest times of the day. Lyles shared a few words with the media following his heat. “I am exactly where I wanted to be because I got the win,” explained the reigning world champion in this event. “Now I have a day. It is a blessing. They have great medicals here, and I am going to get my body right. My coach told me to get out a little bit of the beast today. So I am going to let out the whole thing.” /Dave Hunter/

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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.”

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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