Day seven of the world track and field championships was an exciting an tumultuous affair. Five event finals were held in Berlin, making for plenty of drama around the stadium.
Americans took two coveted titles at the end of the day’s program, beginning with the women’s 200m. Defending champion Allyson Felix of the US was the overwhelming favorite coming into the meet, having run the only sub-22.00 second clocking this year. Felix was up against 2008 Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and 2001 world champion Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas. Felix looked perfect from the gun and ran away with her third consecutive world championship with a time of 22.02. Campbell-Brown ran well to finish with her second consecutive world silver medal in 22.35. Ferguson-McKenzie was able to hold off American Muna Lee for the final medal spot, 22.41 to 22.48.
Immediately following the women’s 200m was the final in the men’s 400m. Everyone expected this to be a true two-horse race, pitting two American stars against each other, as a rematch of the Beijing Olympic final. In lane 4 was the Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt, and two lanes to his right was the two-time defending world champion, Jeremy Wariner. It didn’t take long after the sound of the gun to see who was the true class of the field in 2009. Merritt looked impressive throughout the race, capturing a world senior title to match his world junior title in a world-leading 44.06. Wariner kept his composure, albeit over half a second behind Merritt, to take the silver medal in a season’s best 44.60. Renny Quow of Trinidad and Tobago came up for the bronze medal, adding a senior medal to a collection that also includes the 2006 world junior gold, with a time of 45.02.
The infield hosted two field finals, including the men’s high jump. Although two Americans, Andra Manson and Keith Moffatt, had looked good in qualifying, it was not their turn for a medal. Russian high jump star Yaroslav Rybakov, the indoor world champion, captured the outdoor crown with a mark of 2.32m. Silver medalist Kyriakos Ioannou and co-bronze medalists Sylwester Bednarek of Poland and Raul Spank of Germany all cleared 2.32m, but were relegated to the lower positions due to earlier misses. In the women’s discus Dani Samuels of Australia took home the gold with a new personal best mark of 65.44m. American Stephanie Brown Trafton had an off day; the Olympic champion finished last in the final with a mark of 53.53m.
The men’s 4X100m heats took place on day seven, although we are still unsure of who has qualified for the final. At the time this report was posted the United States had been disqualified from the final after a protest was filed by Great Britain. The British coaches contended that the US had passed the baton beyond the zone, a violation that calls for disqualification. The Americans had won heat number two, with Great Britain placing second and Canada third, all of whom had, at the time, qualified for the final. What we do know is that favorites Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago both qualified easily out of their preliminary heats. The final decision on the disqualification of the US team will come Saturday. If the United States is disqualified it would move Brazil into the final as the next fastest team in the heats.
The heats of the women’s 1500m saw the Americans match their male counterparts, sending three to the final. In heat number one Christin Wurth-Thomas controlled the race through 800m (2:11.84) and 1200m (3:16.45) and held on to qualify automatically for the final in a fast 4:04.16. In heat number two Americans Anna Willard (4:10.47) and Shannon Rowbury (4:10.51) sat in the pack and moved up over the final 150m to finish third and fourth respectively, automatically qualifying for the final on Sunday. Event favorites Maryam Jamal of Bahrain and Gelete Burka of Ethiopia won their respective heats.
In the semifinals of the men’s 800m, American Nick Symmonds looked fantastic, winning wire-to-wire in heat number one. Symmonds lead the group through 400m in 51.94 and took home the victory, and a spot in the final, with a 1:45.96 clocking. Fellow American Khadevis Robinson was unable to qualify for the final, finishing fifth in his heat in 1:45.91. There was lots of drama throughout the three heats. Favorite Abubaker Kaki of Sudan fell in heat one and did not move on to the final. In heat number two Asbel Kiprop of Kenya and Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan, both medal contenders, had terrible races with Kiprop finishing last and Ismail unable to finish. The third heat saw two more medal contenders, David Rudisha of Kenya and Gary Reed of Canada, miss out on qualifying over the final meters. If the final is anything like the semifinal round we are in for one extremely entertaining and dramatic race.
Earlier in the day the 50km walk brought the third win of the championship for a Russain walker. Sergey Kirdyapkin would take home his second consecutive world title with a world-leading 3:38:35.
After seven days of competition the US lead the medal count with 16 total medals including six gold medals, the most of any country. The Jamaicans are in second with a total of 10 medals (five gold) and Russia sits in third with 11 medals (four gold). Host nation Germany is having a fantastic showing thus far, with seven medals, two of which are gold, and sits firmly in fourth place overall.