We’re running out of ways to be confused. Once again the IAAF World Championships has given us another day of bonkers brilliance. This was the instalment delivered by day eight.
Have you ever been to a high jump party?
Multi event competitions don’t really fit with the narrative of major championships, containing complex sub-plots that play out on the fringes of the drama delivered by the individual events. The sheer amount of running, jumping and throwing within a decathlon means disciplines are often squeezed in wherever there’s space, which often means at the back end of sessions when most spectators have gone for a bite and a pint.
The keenness of British fans to take to their seats ahead of the evening session meant that the decathlon high jump was, instead, enjoyed by tens of thousands of spectators. As more fans filtered in, the volume of the rhythmic clap only grew, providing the scale of theatre that these superhumans deserve.
Dem Damn Hurdles III: Dem Damn Hurdles Strike Back
One of the finest sights in athletics is watching Keni Harrison hurdle. Except, that is, when she doesn’t get it right.
In her heat, the world record holder flew over the barriers like they weren’t there, advancing with 12.60, the fastest qualifying time of all the athletes. In the semi, she clattered the first and had to labour to get back in contention, heavily clipping a further three on her way to a third place finish.
Harrison squeezed through to the final as the slowest time qualifier. The last time she was in a world final she was DQ’d for a false start. There will be no room for error if she wants to add a championship crown to her status as the fastest in the world.
Home of the hammers
Five years ago, Poland’s Pawel Fajdek failed to register a single mark at London 2012, despite being the number one ranked hammer thrower in the world. It was a similar story in Rio last year, where he was underwhleming in qualification and failed to make it to the final.
Tonight he laid those demons to rest, spinning his way to a third world title with a best throw of 79.81m. “I waited for this competition at this stadium for five years,” he said after clinching gold.
Since those Olympics, the London Stadium has become home to a soccer team – West Ham – known by many as the Hammers. Anyone in athletics knows that, following the gold of Fajdek’s compatriot Anita Wlodarzczyk gold earlier this week, the real home of the hammers is indeed Poland.
Hell yes she’s tough enough
We’ve always had long jumper Brittney Reese down as a tough cookie. Inglewood’s own has a knack of pulling big jumps out of the bag late on, often while wearing an unruffled expression.
In tonight’s final, she looked similarly unruffled as she jumped out to 7.02m to clinch gold. You’d never know that she recently lost her grandfather. “I know he would have been cheering for me. I’m a stronger person that I probably think I am,” Reese said afterwards.
This is her fourth outdoor world title, sealed in the same place she won Olympic gold in 2012. We don’t just think she’s a strong person – we know it.
Multi is life
After winning the 200m world title in 2015 with just a season as a dedicated sprinter, many expected former multi-eventer Dafne Schippers to kick on last year and challenge for a sprint double in Rio. Though she collected silver in the 200m, she could only muster fifth in the 100m final.
Earlier this week Schippers collected bronze in the 100m, demonstrating an improvement in start speed that she lacked in the past. Tonight the Dutchwoman was similarly sharp out of the blocks and showed enough sprint endurance to hold off late charges from Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Shaunae Miller-Uibo to defend her title in style.
Water, water, everywhere
There are 28 barriers to get over in the 3000m steeplechase, seven of which have a water pit. This fact clearly wasn’t in early leader Beatrice Chepkoech’s mind tonight. The Kenyan forgot to take the first of the water jumps in the final and had to make a speedy U-turn before continuing her race.
That set the tone for a crazy race. There were further fallers – sure – but the real drama occurred after Ruth Jebet paid for attempting to capitalise on Chepkoech’s early mistake. The Bahraini Olympic champ had pushed the pace, only to die with 250m to go. Emma Coburn was able to make the most of it, and opened up her stride coming off the final water barrier to clinch a title that few expected to return to America – let alone for teammate Courtney Frerichs to bring home silver. It was steeplechase at its most baffling best.