The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Doha Review

Oct 13th, 2019
2:30 pm PDT

The 2019 World Championships just concluded. And I have to look at it from two perspectives.
From the perspective of location, it was an abject failure. Temperature wise it was so hot that the only time to go out comfortably was midnight. Prompting the walks and marathons to be held – at midnight. And even then athletes were dropping like flies. Too hot for “fans” to attend until local hero Mutaz Barshim competed. Leaving an empty stadium for much of the meet. With athletes taking victory laps in front of no one! And forcing the meet to move to the beginning of October instead of the usual August timeframe – which would have been even worse.
So, when we’re told by Seb Coe that it was the best World Championships ever, that comment needs to be vetted against the realities of the venue. Because clearly that’s not considered part of the equation.
What the Qataries did get right, was the technology. Technology that enabled air conditioning in a stadium to create a mid 70 degrees competition environment. Technology that developed a pre race light show, that I’m sure has sent the Japanese back to the drawing board ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
It was the technology. The air conditioning. Track, warm up facilities, et al that allowed the world’s athletes to perform at an extraordinary level in the midst of desert conditions. As the athletes were the epitome of why track and field is the best sport on the planet. Because for ten days they ran, jumped, and threw at a level rarely seen in any athletic event!
While the sports leadership keeps looking for a “face” to extol, what Doha proved over and over is that the heart of track and field is the head to head competition! When our best go at it, it’s electric, exciting – regardless of the event.

Best Competitions

  • Women’s 400H – the lone WR set in the meet was the 4th meeting between Delilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin. Each has been more exciting than the last. On the world’s biggest stage, it was Muhammad 52.16 to McLaughlin 52.23 – the #1 & #3 times in history!
  • Women’s 400 – Shaunae Miller Uibo entered as the prohibited favorite. She left shell shocked as Salwa Eid Naser ran a near perfect race to win 48.14 to 48.36 to become the third fastest woman ever!
  • Men’s Shot Put – It’s rare to see a 75 foot shot put. So rare that the last time we saw one was 1995. In Doha we witnessed THREE men achieve this feat! As Tom Walsh opened the competition at 75 feet and Ryan Crouser & Joe Kovacs ended at 75 feet!
  • Men’s Pole Vault – Equally exciting was watching Sam Kendricks and Mondo Duplantis battle in pole vault. Both clearing 19’7″, Kendricks winning in misses!
  • Men’s 4×1 Relay – The US broke a twelve year drought winning in an American record 37.10 with Britain 37.36 setting a European record and Japan 37.43 an Asian record in the fastest mass finish ever!
  • Women’s 1500 – Sifan Hassan pushed the pace and ran away from the field in a meet record 3:51.96! Pulling three others under 3:55!! Including Shelby Houlihan who ran an American record 3:54.99 in 4th. Bitter sweet as she just missed the podium as part of the greatest finish ever in the event.

Outstanding Individual Efforts

  • Noah Lyles continued his dominance over 200 with a 19.83 win.
  • Christian Coleman blitzing the 100 field in a PR 9.76 to become #6 all time.
  • Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce running away in the women’s 100 in 10.71.
  • Stephen Gardiner in a shocking 43.48 400 to crush the field.
  • Donovan Fraser dominating the 800 to set a new American record of 1:42.34.
  • Dina Asher Smith winning the 200 in a British record 21.88 after taking silver in the 100 for the best sprint double of the meet!
  • Christian Taylor once again winning the triple jump. This time at 58’9″.
  • Mutaz Barshim the hometown hero winning the high jump at 7’9″ to electrify the meets largest crowd.

Disappointments

  • Britney Reese doesn’t make the long jump final after winning most World and Olympic golds the past decade.
  • Michael Norman doesn’t make the 400 final after dominating the event all year!
  • The first 400H race to feature three men under 47 saw no one crack the mark and of course no WR after a years build up to the event!
The highlights however far outweighed the disappointments. As in spite of the heat, this will undoubtedly go down competitively as one of the greatest World Championships ever. In large part because of the plethora of going talent inhabiting the sport right now! I dare say that I expect the Tokyo Games to be on par with Mexico City in terms of depth and excellence of results!
July 24, 2020. The beginning of the Tokyo Olympics. June 19 thru June 28, 2020. The US Olympic Trials. It’s all right around the corner. As long as the 2019 season was, 2020 is going to be short. It’ll be here before we know it!

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11:32 am PDT

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