Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field blog featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'm writing from the 2017 World Championships in London. I'm active on 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