Another spellbinding night of action in the London Stadium produced the unlikely sight of a 1-2 for the United States in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, courtesy of the inspired Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs.
There was also something more familiar in a fourth-time triumph for their US teammate Brittney Reece in the women’s long jump, a second women’s 200m win for Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and a record third hammer success for Poland’s Pawel Fajdek. The US now has eight gold medals – five more than Kenya.
Coburn and Frerichs turn the world upside down with stunning 1-2 for the US
Just when you thought these topsy-turvy IAAF World Championships could not get any more surreal, the packed crowd were treated to the unlikely spectacle of a US one-two in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Yes, you read that correctly: a US one-two.
There were two stars and stripes flying on the lap of hour and two US stars earning their global stripes as they took flight on the final lap of a truly stunning race.
The sound of the bell was like a clarion call to action for Emma Coburn, who took Olympic bronze in Rio last year, and her US teammate Courtney Frerichs. By that stage in proceedings, Kenya’s world leader Celliphine Chespol had been dropped and Ruth Jebet, Bahrain’s world record-holder and Olympic champion, was starting to fade.
Kenya’s defending champion Hyvin Kiyeng was still in the hunt but she too was burned off and the US duo surged off the final water jump and up the home straight.
Coburn charged to victory in 9:02.58, a championship record. Frerichs took the silver in 9:03.77, a personal best by a staggering 15.42. Jepkemoi bagged the bronze medal in 9:04.03.
Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech replicated her fourth-place finish in Rio, clocking 9:10.45 – despite venturing beyond the water jump on lap three and losing considerable ground as she doubled back. Jebet was fifth in 9:13.96 and Chespol sixth in 9:13.96.
“This is incredible,” said Coburn. “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me and made it possible for me to be world champion. I just want to find my family and give them a hug. I’m lost for words. This is better than I could ever have imagined.”
The stunned Frerichs said: “I would never have believed this could happen. Maybe fifth or sixth, but silver? Wow, I am shocked. This is an absolute dream.
“I’m so happy to have won alongside Emma. She ran an amazing race to get the championship record. I’m just going to enjoy the moment with her.”
Double 200m gold for Dutch Dafne
When Dafne Schippers returned home to Utrecht after winning the 200m at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing in a European record 21.63, she had a seal named in her honour and also a road, Dafne Schipperslaan.
The former heptathlete who has assumed the historical mantle of Fanny Blankers-Koen as the 21st Century Flying Dutchwoman did not exactly retain her title by a street but in timing her seasonal peak to perfection she had just enough in the tank to strike gold again.
Powering round the bend level with Marie-Josee Ta Lou and battling down the home straight with the Ivory Coast sprinter who missed 100m gold by 0.01, Schippers prevailed by 0.03 in 22.05, a season’s best. Ta Lou took silver in 22.08, a national record, with the Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo claiming bronze in 22.15 – 0.07 ahead of Dina Asher-Smith, the Briton who suffered a broken foot in February.
Fittingly, Schippers’ triumph came in the city where Blankers-Koen became the star of the 1948 Olympics, winning golds in the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m – before being presented with a bicycle on her return home by the mayor of Amsterdam.
Four-time title winner Reece’s golden tribute to late grandfather
It was drama all the way in a gripping women’s long jump final, with three different leaders in the opening three rounds and a shift in the medal positions in the last two rounds. When the dust settled, Brittney Reece was left standing as a four-time world long jump champion, matching a feat achieved on the men’s side by fellow US athlete Dwight Phillips and Cuba’s Ivan Pedroso.
In the stadium where she leapt to Olympic gold in 2012, the 30-year-old’s third round jump of 7.02m (0.1m/s) earned her a fourth world title to set alongside those she bagged in Berlin in 2009, Daegu in 2011 and Moscow in 2013.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, with the death of my grandfather,” said Reece. “This is for him.”
Darya Klishina, competing as an authorised neutral athlete, led with 6.78m in the opening round and finished with silver, courtesy of a 7.00m leap in round five.
Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic led in round two with 6.96m and was in a medal position until the final round. Tianna Bartoletta of the US, the champion in Helsinki in 2005 and in Beijing in 2015 and a member of the US quartet who smashed the 4x100m world record at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, uncorked a 6.97m jump to snatch bronze.
It was the first time in six successive global championships, outdoors or in, that the fourth-placed Spanovic had failed to land a medal.
Hammer hat-trick for fantastic Fajdek
Pawel Fajdek snatched pole position with 79.73m in round three and held on to it, improving to 79.81 in round four. In doing so, the 28-year-old became the first man to win three world hammer titles, having prevailed in Moscow in 2013 and again in Beijing in 2015.
Having failed to qualify for the Olympic final in Rio last year, victory was particularly sweet for the Pole, who suffered the same fate in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Neutral athlete Valerly Pronkin took silver with 78.16m and Fajdek’s Polish teammate Wojciech Nowicki bronze with 78.03m ahead of Frenchman Quentin Bigot (77.67m).
Harrison survives hiccup as Pearson and Harper-Nelson roll back the years
Kendra Harrison goes into Saturday’s final of the women’s 100m hurdles with her winning streak finally broken. She will simply be glad to be in the line-up.
Running on the track where she scorched to her 12.20 world record after missing the cut for US Olympic selection, the 24-year-old from Tennessee smacked into the first barrier in the third semi-final heat and looked out of contention, bereft of momentum, as 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson rolled back the years, her US teammate streaking to victory in 12.63.
To her credit, though, Harrison hauled herself up to third place behind Harper-Nelson and Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz (12.71) in 12.66. It secured her the second of the two non-automatic qualifying places by 0.01, at the expense of Norway’s former world junior champion Isabelle Pederson, who finished fourth in her heat.
“I’m just glad to have got through,” said Harrison, whose heat win earlier in the day (12.60) extended her winning streak since last year’s US Olympic trials to 23 races.
“I think that first little hiccup threw me off. I hit the first hurdle and I just had to readjust. I had to tell myself not to panic because I’ve done the training and I’ve run the world record in this stadium, so I was capable of making up for the error.
“I can’t worry about one performance. I’ve done a lot of work so I have to trust that.”
The fastest qualifier for the final was Sally Pearson with 12.53 (0.5m/s) in the opening heat. It was the 30-year-old former world and Olympic champion’s quickest time for four years – since she took world silver behind Brianna Rollins of the USA in 12.50 in Moscow in 2013.
“I haven’t come here to come second,” Pearson proclaimed. “I’m getting back to my old self again.”
Kiprop back in form and Semenya still on double medal course
In a bruising opening semifinal of the men’s 1500m, three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop kept his head while all about him were losing theirs, surging majestically from sixth to the second qualifying spot behind his Kenyan teammate Elijah Manangoi, the 2015 silver medallist and 2017 world leader, 3:40.10 to 3:40.14.
Timothy Cheruiyot led from gun almost to tape in the second semifinal but also looked ominously smooth, despite being overtaken on the inside by the fast-finishing European indoor champion Jakub Holusa, the Czech athlete snatching victory by 0.19 in 3:38.05.The injury-hit Kenyan champion Ronald Kwemoi failed to make the cut.
Meanwhile, on the women’s middle distance front, five races into her double medal bid in London, Caster Semenya remains on course for another step up onto the podium in the London Stadium. The Olympic champion, a bronze medallist in Monday’s 1500m final, strode to a commanding victory in her 800m semifinal in 1:58.90, the fastest time of the round.
Mayer half way to glory
In the race to claim the global decathlon crown left free by the abdication of the retired world record-holder Ashton Eaton, Kevin Mayer stands in pole position at the halfway stage. The 25-year-old Frenchman, silver medallist behind Eaton in Rio last year, got off to a flying start on day one with a 100m lifetime best of 10.70, followed up with season’s bests in the long jump (7.52m), shot (15.72m) and high jump (2.08m) and a PB in the 400m (48.26).
That added up to an impressive 4478. Kai Kazmirek, who finished fourth at the Olympics in Rio last year, lies second on 4421, with his German teammate Rico Freimuth, the 2015 bronze medallist, third on 4361.
Perkovic perks up discus qualifying
Croatia’s two-time Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic booked her place in Sunday’s final with her longest ever championship throw, in qualifying or finals: a mighty 69.67m. Second best in qualifying, with 65.58m, was Yaimi Perez, the Cuban who has twice beaten Perkovic this season.
Happy return for flying Barshim
Mutaz Essa Barshim returned to the scene of his breakthrough joint bronze medal-winning performance at the 2012 Olympics, recording the only clean card of the men’s high jump qualifying round. The 24-year-old sailed over 2.22m, 2.26m, 2.29m and 2.31m at the first time of asking, progressing to Sunday’s final with the tag of clear favourite still pinned on his Qatari vest.
“The only colour of medal I want is the gold so hopefully I can achieve that,” said the 2014 world indoor champion. “This place is special for me; it is where I won my first major medal at the Olympics so maybe it will bring me luck.”
Ukraine’s 2013 world champion Bogdan Bondarenko was one of five others to achieve the automatic qualifying height of 2.31m, together with German champion Mateusz Przybylko, Bulgarian Tihomir Ivanov and Britain’s Robbie Grabarz.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF