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

World Championships Day One

Aug 15th, 2009
3:23 pm PDT

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day One

Very interesting opening day. A few disappointments. A couple of well earned wins. And a possible preview of a repeat of Beijing.

With a lot of qualifying taking place in the early round, the meet got going in earnest with the women’s steeple heats. And if the heats are any indication, then gold is going to Gulnara Galkina (RUS). Running in Heat 1, she simply ran clear of the field and never looked back. She seems to know only one way to run, annihilate the competition! Which is what she did, winning easily in 9:17.67 with her closest competitor, Antie Molder (GER) a far back second in 9:21.73 – a National Record! So dominant was Galkina that she controlled the next two heats as heat 1 was so fast that everyone else had to finish in the top 4 of their heats to assure qualification! Among the qualifiers was Jenny Barringer (US) who controlled the first half of her heat before settling in and falling back slightly, then kicking in the final 200 to secure her place. Barringer’s speed will certainly be a plus, but I don’t see anyone being a match for the Russian. Makes me wish Jenny had chosen the 1500.

Shortly after the 10000 one of the most anticipated events of the program started its first round as the men’s 100 meter competitors took to the track. With 12 heats I won’t go through each and every one (though I was awake at 2am to watch them), but just hit the highlights. Most of the principles made it through this round, though Asafa Powell (JAM) got a huge scare. Running in heat 3, Powell burst from the blocks and quickly ran away from the field only to shut it down mid way. As he relaxed towards the finish the rest of the field quickly came back on him and at the line Powell barely got the third spot – only .02 ahead of 4th place. Had he not gotten 3rd he would have been eliminated as the time would not have held up to take him to the next round! Race favorites Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay had no such trouble as both qualified easily – Gay with the rounds fastest mark of 10.16. Bolt, however, looked to have the easiest time running almost nonchalantly to his 10.20 heat win. The only major casualty of this round was Derrick Atkins (BAR) who was eliminated in his heat. Atkins was the silver medalist in Osaka, but will be no where near the podium this time around.

The rest of the morning session was uneventful, and things didn’t begin to warm up again until the evening session when the men took to the track once again in the quarterfinals of the 100 meters. Five heats in this round with heat 1 seeing Dwain Chambers (GBR) and Richard Thompson (TRI) give each other a good run in 10.04 and 10.08 respectively. Heat 2 saw a double false start elimination before Michael Rodgers (US) accelerated mid race and ran to a 10.01 win. In heat 3 Asafa Powell made amends for his earlier lapse in the opening round by again blasting away at the start but this time running through 80 meters before easing to a 9.95 win over Darvis Patton (US). If Powell’s start in heat 3 was stellar then Tyson Gay’s start in heat 4 was dismal. Starting as if he were looking to give the field a handicap, Gay then accelerated mid race and ran through the field before easing to a 9.98 win ahead of Michael Frater ‘s (JAM) 10.09. The quarterfinals ended with Usain Bolt literally toying with the field as he ran side by side with training mate Daniel Bailey (ANT) laughing as they went 10.02 and 10.03.

After watching the first two rounds the battle between Bolt and Gay seems to be leaning the way of Usain Bolt. Bolt has been starting very well, while Gay has not had a decent start yet. Asafa Powell, Daniel Bailey, and Michael Rodgers have emerged as the front runners for bronze. Gay still seems to be the main threat to Bolt, but he must start better to have a shot as Bolt seems to be in Beijing shape at this point.

Then we got what I considered the first shocker of the day in the women’s 10000. With a group running together most of the race, Meseret Defar (ETH) took over on the backstretch of the final lap and looked to be in control coming off the final turn and heading up the finishing straight. But suddenly she seemed to falter and teammate Meselech Melkamu went by her. Then with a spurt 19 year old Linet Masai (KEN) went right by Melkamu at the line as Melkamu raised her arms in what she thought was victory! Defar never falters, but did here and what seemed like sure gold with 50 meters to go turned into a 5th place finish. Amy Yoder Begley was the top finishing American in 6th place.

The US got its first gold medal of the meet as the day began to move to a close as Christian Cantwell finally got that elusive outdoor gold medal. Cantwell finally met with his potential in a Major. Cantwell hit a huge 72′ 3.5″ throw in the 5th round to secure the gold medal he has been searching for most of this decade.

Great opening day of competition. Tomorrow’s schedule is below. Results of all rounds and events can be found here.

16/08 10:05 W Shot Put Qualification
16/08 10:10 W 800 Metres Heats
16/08 10:45 W Javelin Throw Qualification
16/08 11:00 M 3000 Metres Steeplechase
16/08 11:35 W Long Jump Heptathlon
16/08 11:55 W 100 Metres Heats
16/08 12:00 W 20 Kilometres Race Walk Final
16/08 12:15 W Javelin Throw Qualification

Afternoon session

16/08 18:05 W Javelin Throw Heptathlon
16/08 18:35 W 100 Metres Quarter-Final
16/08 19:00 M Triple Jump Qualification
16/08 19:10 M 100 Metres Semi-Final
16/08 19:25 W Javelin Throw Heptathlon
16/08 19:40 W 400 Metres Semi-Final
16/08 20:15 M 400 Metres Hurdles Semi-Final
16/08 20:20 W Shot Put Final
16/08 20:50 W 800 Metres Heptathlon
16/08 21:35 M 100 Metres Final

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