DOHA, Qatar – Jamaica failed to add to their four medal count of two gold and two silver at the end of day six (2 October) at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 inside the Khalifa International stadium.
London 2017 World and Rio 2016 Olympic champion Omar McLeod came into the men’s 110m hurdles final as the defending champion and only surviving member of the Jamaican quartet from the semi-finals. He was beaming with confidence after registering the fastest time of 13.08 seconds in the semi-finals.
McLeod and American Grant Holloway, running stride for stride from lanes four and six were the quickest away at the gun, with Halloway marginally ahead after the third hurdle, which McLeod clipped. McLeod fought back into the race, and there was little between them until the eighth hurdle, which McLeod hit hard, he also clipped the ninth hurdle then lost his balance and crashed to the ground after hopping over the tenth.
USA’s Halloway who turned professional after the NCAA finals kept his composure despite the drama happening around him to win in 13.10 (+0.6 m/s). Sergey Shubenkov came through strongly on the outside to snatch silver in 13.15.
Holloway’s glee could only be matched by Spaniard Orlando Ortega’s grief who was impeded by McLeod who later was disqualified. “My hamstring grab after I came off the first hurdle,” McLeod said ruefully.
“So I was being very tentative, and then it got worse by the sixth hurdle, and I leapt a little bit causing me airtime and other issues. I was ready to go, I came out here and showed heart, and it was very unfortunate what happened.
“I am sorry for Ortega because I bumped him and he could have gotten a medal. But it is life,” said the Olympic champion.
Michael Norman came to the world championships boasting the best credentials. The world number one quarter-miler looked awesome in the heats, and it was safe to say the final was his race to lose – he did not make it past the semi-finals. Looking on at Norman through their rearview mirror in the same semi-final was Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Cedenio who ran aggressively to win in a season’s best 44.41 seconds.
“It felt comfortable,” said Cedenio. “I just did what my coach says to do. He said you have to go out, take control of the race and try to win. I just went out and did not look back.”
Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield made his first world championships final after coming through for third, in 44.77 seconds to claim one of the non-automatic spots.
“It was an OK race,” said Bloomfield. “I got the pacing off for the first part of the race, I won’t lie, but I came through, and I made the final, and you can expect me to give of my best.”
Bahamian Steven Gardiner led a Caribbean sweep in semi-final two winning in a season’s best 44.13 seconds. Gardiner, a silver medallist at the London World Championships, felt satisfied with his effort.
“It was a pretty good run, thank GOD for that,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and focus on my lane, not go out too fast but at a good pace and qualify for the final.
Grenada’s Kirani James has run three races this year and has gone sub-45 on every occasion. His journey is developing into a great comeback story and the Grenadian, who was second behind Gardiner in a season’s best 44.23, was grateful for making another world championship final. “I knew Gardiner was going to run fast,” said James.
“The tricky thing was the guys in the first heat ran very fast, and I knew for me to get a middle lane I had to run 44.36 or better, so that was on my mind and when I saw 44.23, I’m like OK this is good.” The other Caribbean qualifier was Jamaica’s Demish Gaye who clinched the other non-automatic spot after placing third in a season’s best 44.66 seconds. “It’s been a while since I have run this fast and I’m pretty pleased to have made it to the finals,” said Gaye.
Rushell Clayton, Jamaica’s domestic champion, continued her meteoric rise in women’s 400m hurdles. Clayton timed her race to perfection in semi-final two when she came with a late surge off the final barrier passing Ashley Spencer and Zuzana Hejnova in a flash to win in 54.17 seconds 0.01 off her lifetime best.
Clayton’s teammate Shiann Salmon, who ran a personal best 55.20 in the heats, revised that time to 55.16 in the final heat but missed qualification as one of the fastest losers.
Dina Asher-Smith became the first British athlete (man or woman) to win a world championships gold at 200m, and she did it in style. Asher-Smith running out of lane seven got off to a cracking start going by American Dezerea Bryant in lane eight with her first few strides.
She flew off the curve and left the field for dead. When she whizzed past the line, a national record of 21.88 (+0.9 m/s) immediately flashed on the giant screen. Bahamian Tynia Gaither finished eight, in 22.90 seconds.
In the women’s shot put competition, Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd had to use all three attempts to secure qualification to the final from Group A. Thomas-Dodd, registered 17.60m in the first round well short of the automatic qualifying mark of 18.40m. She improved to 18.06m in the second round before heaving the metal ball beyond the 19m mark, 19.32m, on her third and final attempt.
“The first two throws were not where I wanted to be,” said Thomas-Dodd who was fourth at the London World Championships.
“The goal was to come out and hit it on the first throw, but that didn’t happen so I had to refocus after the second throw and try to put one together and that’s what I did and was able to get a distance out there,” the Commonwealth and Pan American Champion reasoned.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Portious Warren, drawn in the same group as Thomas-Dodd, finished tenth in qualification with 17.46m. Warren threw 17.43m on her first attempt and then improved by 3 centimetres in the second round before registering a foul on her third and final attempt.
“This is the first time I’m going to say that I’m disappointed in myself because I went into the war and was expecting to throw beyond 18m, as I did in practice,” said Warren. “I wouldn’t say it’s nerves it’s more like failing to execute properly and carry that momentum that I had during my warm-ups.”
Elsewhere, in the women’s 1500m heats, Jamaica’s Aisha Praught-Leer needed to finish in the top six (6) to qualify automatically for the next round. Praught-Leer stayed with the leading pack until the home straight came into view, but could not match strides with the group when acceleration was required finishing seventh (7th) in 4:09.81.
Meanwhile, on the infield in the women’s discus, none of Jamaica’s representatives could progress out of the preliminaries. In Group A, Shanice Love (59.50m) finished ninth, and Shadae Lawrence was tenth in Group B with 58.51m.
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