Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mo from Mo

Mo Farah won one of the most dramatic 10,000m ever run to win his final 10 kilometer race on the track. In a scintillating competition whose outcome was in doubt until the final strides, Farah held off Joshua Cheptegei (UG), Paul Tanui (Ken), and Bedan Karoki Muchiri (Ken) for the win. In a raucous stadium filled with cheering Brits (and an annoying announcer who really didn’t need to keep hyping a race that needed no hyping), Farah gave the hometown fans something to sing about - and something to sing. Hearing “God Save the Queen” sung by the better part of 66,000 people was as stirring a moment as they come.

Daniel Stahl (Swe) led the field in men’s discus qualifying at 67.64/221-11. A terrific final is in store Saturday night with aging World and Olympic medalists going up against newcomers. Will it be the final stand of the veterans or a changing of the guard?

Mason Finley (US), one of the young turks of the event, surprised all with his 6th place finish in qualifying. If he does that again on Saturday, he’ll be top-ten world ranked this year. And on a given day, could a medal be in store for him?

Three-time World and 2012 Olympic champ Robert Harting (Ger) threw his way back into the conversation with a 65.32/214-4 qualifier. Joined by veterans Gerd Kanter, World and Olympic champion from Estonia, Robert Urbanek of Poland, 2015 World bronze medalist, and defending champion Piotr Malachowski (Pol), Harting could well make the podium again. He failed to advance to the finals in Rio while his brother, Christoph, won gold. Christoph is absent here, so it is up to Robert to maintain the family reputation for greatness.

There were no major surprises in women’s 1500m qualifying as all the favorites advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals. Sara Vaughn (US) advanced based on time – a PB of 4:04.56 - no better place or time to run one’s best. A magnificent performance by the US veteran taking full advantage of her first World team experience.

Unfortunately, some of the news out of qualifying rounds is of the big names who do not advance. The US suffered two major losses when Olympic champs Jenn Suhr no-heighted in the pole vault and Jeff Henderson underperformed in the long jump; both will be watching their finals when most thought they’d finish their events on the podium.

The men’s 100m saw some drama as Usain Bolt (Jam) had an imperfect start, to put it politely. His acceleration over the last 20m remains remarkable, but he has never looked more vulnerable. The much anticipated final is Saturday night.

The most heart-rending moment of the day came when Francena McCorory (US) was in tears on the podium while receiving the 400m bronze that was stolen from her by a drug cheat. Then she was awarded gold as a member of the 2013 US 4x400m team which was similarly robbed.

On Saturday evening Jo Pavey (GB) and Kara Goucher (US) will receive their 2007 10,000m bronze and silver, respectively, 10 years overdue. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GB) will receive the heptathlon gold that should have been hung around her neck six years ago.

Kudos to IAAF for making these presentations so public. The sheer number of them – 11 individual and 5 team – speaks to the culture of cheating that has shaken our sport to its core. 

As the new gold medalists are celebrated with a complete flag and anthem ceremony, England is guaranteed to start the evening with another rousing rendition of “God Save the Queen”. 

Let's hope this saves our sport.


Sandi Morris, US, Pole Vault
copyright Getty Images/IAAF




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