Monday, August 21, 2023

Budapest World Championships Day #3

When this leads to

and in between...

leads to


and this,

perhaps a few words of explanation are in order.

In the semi-finals of the women's 100m today, Sha'Carri Richardson got off to a slow start, finished 3rd, and then spent time in the waiting room to see if she would advance to the final based on time.

While much has been made of her third-place finish in her semi, it should be noted that her 10.84 would not only have won the other two semi-final races, but she found herself in what Ato Boldon called "The Semi-Final of Death." 

Lined up on either side of her were Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou, two of the greatest sprinters in history. In addition, they were the 3 fastest of the year, and #5-7-8 fastest all-time. In a semi!

No woman had ever won the 100m after either qualifying by time or by running in the outermost lane. Today, Richardson did both. In a fantastic display of poise and reserve, Richardson steadied the ship and stole the race with mere meters to go. 

It was Jamaica 2-3, with Shericka Jackson in silver and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in bronze. That Fraser-Pryce should even conceive of being on the podium at age 36 is remarkable; this was her 6th 100m Worlds medal - and the other five were gold.

To top it off, Richardson set a Championship record of 10.65, with 10.72 and 10.77 earning the remaining medals. 

She said, "I'm here. I'm the champion. I told you all: I'm not back, I'm better."

Triple jumper Hugues Fabrice Zango already had made history in Burkina Faso by winning his country's first Olympic medal, a bronze in 2021. 

Today he became his country's first World Champion when he bounded out to a 17.64 in the 5th round to finish comfortably ahead of Lazaro Martinez (17.41) and Cristian Napoles (17.40), both from Cuba. 

Zango also completed a set of World Championships medals. With bronze from 2019, silver from 2022, and now gold, he completed the kind of progression that coaches only dream of.

In our 'it ain't over 'til it's over' department, Sweden's Daniel Stahl and Slovenia's Kristjan Ceh gave the thrilled crowd one of the most dramatic finishes in recent Worlds memory. Last year, Ceh won the discus in Eugene and set the championship record while Stahl uncharacteristically finished out of the medals. Many saw this as a changing of the guard, especially with then-19-year-old Mykolas Alekna (Lithuania) second. 

If this was supposed to have been a changing of the guard, the guard has been to slow to change. Today, Ceh and Stahl were the last two up, and it appeared Stahl was poised to win. Until, on his last throw, Ceh sent one into the lead. 

Done? No, Stahl had one throw to go. He sent it sailing past Ceh's championship record of 71.13 from Eugene to a victory and new record of 71.46. Alekna finished 3rd and now has silver and bronze in a throwing event.

Stahl, who is not known for being overly smiley, could not keep the smile off his face during a lengthy celebration. 

Said Stahl, "This was my best performance ever." 

Grant Holloway won his third consecutive gold medal in the men's 110m high hurdles, and is joined on the podium by countryman and bronze medalist, Daniel Roberts. Olympic gold medalist Hansle Parchment was second. Holloway had an explosive start and was leading after the first hurdle.

"I knew they were going to close really quickly," he said, "so my main goal was to keep smooth to the line."

Mission accomplished.

A note for fans in the Pacific Northwest:

All of Washington State's eyes were on women's pole vault qualifying. Hana Moll, the 18-year-old high schooler from Olympia, WA, finished 3rd at USATF to make the World Championships team. 

Until today, when she PRed in qualifying at 4.65, someone else had exactly the same personal best.

Her twin sister, Amanda, at 15' 1.5/4.61! 

Both will be entering the University of Washington this fall.

Watch out Pac-12!

Photo credits: 

All but the photo of Hugues Fabrice Zango are by Christian Petersen for Getty Images for World Athletics

The photo of Zango is by Stephen Pond, Getty Images for World Athletics.

~Mark Cullen, written from Seattle