Day 6 of the World Athletics Championships in London was a day like no other so far. It rained incessantly throughout the English capital all day and evening, making conditions difficult and ensuring times would not be fast, while the two track finals, on a night of just three in total, both produced shock results.
American Kerron Clement, a multiple winner in the Men’s 400m Hurdles event was bidding to win another World Championships gold medal, 10 years on from his initial victory in Tokyo.
He was shocked by the victory of a 21 year-old Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who in only his second season as a 400m hurdler, ran 48.35 seconds, to beat the Olympic bronze medallist, Turkey’s Yasmani Copello (48.49 secs.), and the Olympic Champion Clement (48.52).
It wasn’t clear whether Warholm or the Olympic medallists were more shocked with the victory, with the Norwegian stating:
“I’ve worked so hard for this but I don’t know what I have done. This is an amazing feeling. I’m world champion, that’s crazy.”
Post race the 2007 and 2009 champion Clement admitted he made an error coming to the last hurdle which may have cost him the gold medal:
“I kind of had a mishap as on the last hurdle I switched legs and that shouldn’t have happened. I felt I could have started quicker but a medal is a medal.”
Just a few minutes after the 400m Hurdles shock result, American Phyllis Francis produced another in winning the Women’s 400m. Allyson Felix (USA) and Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) started as favourites for the race and it all seemed to be going to plan for the Bahamian who was clear into the home straight.
Suddenly, about 20m from the line, with the gold medal at her mercy, Miller-Uibo lost her momentum and soon found herself behind the two Americans and Salwa Eid Naser (BRN), eventually finishing medal-less in fourth position (50.49 secs.).
Twenty-five year old Francis crossed the line in 49.92 seconds for victory. Discussing her win, the New Yorker said:
“It’s amazing. I’m so excited. It is such an amazing feeling. Being world champion sounds pretty cool. When I went down the home straight, I just believed in myself and stayed patient. I just knew what I was capable of doing, so I stuck to my race model. At the finish line I was surprised. I thought I was second or third, but then they told me, ‘You are first’. That is crazy.”
Salwa Eid Naser from Bahrain became the first Asian medallist in the event, claiming the silver medal in 50.06 seconds, ahead of the 2015 World Champion Allyson Felix (50.08 secs).
Felix’s bronze medal makes her the first woman to have a full set of medals from the Women’s 400m at the World Championships. The 31-year-old California native also join both Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey as the most medalled competitor in World Athletics Championships history, stretching her personal tally to 14. The relays at the weekend should see the Santa Clara resident surpass both Jamaican greats.
Germany-based Lijiao Gong, the only thrower over 20m this season, won the Women’s Shot Put Final with a fifth round throw of 19.94m, giving China its first win in the competition since Huang Zhihong at the 1993 World Championships.
The gold medallist passed the 19m line with five throws on a night of unfavourable conditions for the athletes. Her win means she becomes just the second person to win the Asian Championships, Asian Games and World Championships titles.
Hungary’s European Indoor title holder Anita Márton, a bronze medallist in Rio, produced a 19.49m throw in the sixth round to win the silver medal, and thus become the first Hungarian to medal in the event.
American Michelle Carter, who was aiming to become the sixth USA athlete to claim the Olympic and World titles, had to settle for the bronze medal position with a best effort of 19.14m.