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

Budapest Was As Good As Advertised

Aug 30th, 2023
7:05 pm PDT

Prior to the start of Budapest 2023, I foresaw this as potentially one of the greatest championships ever. The losses of several top athletes didn’t deter me from this thought. Now that the meet has been run and the results are in, I would say that my original assessment was correct. The depth of talent in this sport is greater than it’s ever been. From late 30 year old veterans to young 19 and 20 year olds, I don’t think the sport has ever been better talent wise from top to bottom. Things started quite excitedly as the finals of the mixed relay and women’s 10,000 provided both tragedy and triumph. Triumph for the winners, but tragedy for both Sifan Hassan and Femke Bol who both fell to the track mere meters away from victory! A sign that nothing was going to be certain in this iteration of the World Championships.

Actually in the end one thing did prove to be both certain and consistent. The level of competition in Budapest was outstanding. There wasn’t a day that was lacking in the performance department. Sprints, hurdles, throws, multis. The athletes showed up ready to do the thing! There were few “runaway” victories. And most events came down to the final strides, throws, and attempts. Including the multi events where the 800 (Hep) and 1500 (Dec) had impact on the podium. Budapest was an awesome meet, an outstanding prelude to next year’s Olympics in Paris. Following are the events and performances that I found most exciting.

The 100m, Men and Women – Perhaps the most anticipated event of any championship is the 100 meters. The fastest humans in the meet face off to determine who is #1. This meet also had several of the sport’s best personalities involved. Noah Lyles, Sha’Carri Richardson, Fred Kerley, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Christian Coleman, and Shericka Jackson among others. Both events created a lot of excitement. From Fred missing a spot in the men’s final; while Noah raised his hands triumphantly in his semi. To Sha’Carri qualifying on time and earning lane 9 in the final. In the end, the two “largest” personalities won. As Noah’s mid race acceleration led him to a 9.83 victory. Followed by Sha’Carri’s lane nine 10.65 MR. Next stop for both, Paris France and the Olympic Games.

Men’s Shot Put – Crouser. That’s the name. Ryan Crouser. One of the most dominant forces in the sport today. Ryan’s attendance was in doubt when he discovered that leg pain during training was actually blood clots in his leg. After consulting with his doctor, Ryan decided to take the trip to Budapest, where he proceeded to defend his title with the second farthest throw of his career – and history. A massive 23.51m (77′ 1″) blast. No one has ever dominated this event the way Crouser it’s at present.

The 200m, Men and Women – Noah and Shericka simply showed that they are two of the best to ever do it in this event. Shericka’s 21.41 is the #2 time in history. Following up on her 21.45 in last year’s championship. Noah’s 19.52 was his EIGHTH legal race under 19.60! Only four athletes in history have ever run faster. Two of them were in this race and lost. Noah and Shericka have become two of the sport’s more dominate sprinters.

Women’s 400m – This race lost its marquee name, but none of its excitement. Sydney McLaughlin pulled out of the meet, as did Salwa Eid Naser (48.14, PB). Both citing injury. Defending champion, Shaunae Miller Uibo (48.36, PB), didn’t make the final as she was still coming back from child birth last year. Yet the field still had 7 women that have run under 50 seconds this year. Resulting in an excellent race, won by Marileidy Paulino in a nice 48.76! Paulino, Natalie Kaczmarek (49.57), and Sada Williams (49.60) all earned their first Worlds medals. A very nice race that serves as a preview for what may occur next year in Paris.

The women’s discus – After the opening day when Bol and Hassan fell, I dubbed this the Death and Taxes Championships. Because the only thing certain in Budapest was death and taxes! No event lived up to the title more than this one. As favorite Valarie Allman threw a huge 68.57m in the first round to seemingly cement gold. She threw 69.23m in round three and looked to put an exclamation point on things. Until literally out of nowhere, teammate Laulaga Tausaga did the unbelievable and threw a four meter PB of 69.49m in round five to take the gold medal. Arguably the biggest shock of the meet. Even Ms Tausaga was stunned but her performance. Everyone dreams of becoming a champion. This young lady literally lived her dream.

Men’s hurdles – That would be both men’s hurdle events. In the 110H, Grant Holloway is in the midst of an out standing career. Yet there’s always the impending threat of “someone” dethroning him! This year’s threats were Cordell Tinch and Rasheed Broadbell. Both of whom had run sub 13 during the season. Broadbell didn’t get out of the first round. The gremlins of Budapest knocking him to the ground late race – joining Hassan and Bol as fallen stars. Tinch made it to his first ever global final. Grant was running in his third. Holloway’s experience and competitive nature shone through as he won in an SB 12.96. For his third world title. Long hurdler Karsten Warholm was also looking for his third world title. Against last year’s winner Alison dos Santos, and Tokyo runner up Rai Benjamin. Together they’re the three fastest hurdlers in history. Warholm (46.51) and Benjamin (46.62) entered the meet with SBs that only they and dos Santos were capable of. And Alison had run 47.66 in spite of having knee surgery earlier in the year. They dominated the rounds and another epic final was in the offing. At the gun, both Warholm and Benjamin were out like two houses afire. They barrelled around the second turn and headed up the stretch, until half way to the line Benjamin broke. Warholm finishing in 46.89. As talented as Benjamin is, he has yet to defeat Warholm. He gets another shot in Paris in less than a year.

The 4×1 Relays – I tend to get nervous when watching the short relays, because since the 90’s, the US men have had a rather poor history of moving the baton. I thought we had gotten past that in Doha (2019) when we passed the stick well and set an AR of 37.10. But in Tokyo we failed to make final due to poor passing. And in Eugene we lost due to poor passing! Once again, we passed poorly, but overcame that with superior for speed in 37.37 – faster than every other NR except Jamaicans! Followup with the women, who last year passed beautifully for the men. But followed the women literally and figuratively, passing poorly and winning in a MR 41.03! I look at both wins from the following perspective. I think we’re close to the right combinations with both squads. I’ll talk about my ideal squads in another post. Secondly however, I believe that the US can break both WRs in the near future. And I find THAT quite exciting.

Women’s 4×4 – Yes I’m skipping past the men’s race. The US won, but it was relatively slow (sorry) and unexciting. The women’s event however was relatively fast depth wise, and totally exciting. Yes, the US was missing. Ironically due to passing out of the zone in the semi. The race turned out to be fire none the less. As the Netherlands stepped up, with sensational legs by Lieke Klaver (2nd, 48.71) and Femke Bol (4th, 48.79). Klaver brought the Dutch into the mix, then Bol came from 3rd at the exchange (several meters behind) to run to victory at the line. An exciting and fitting finish to this meet.

Budapest was easily one of the best World Championships we’ve had. Discussing my favorite moments only touches the surface of the excellent performances that were produced. As literally every event produced something of note. This without all of the individuals that were “missing” in this year’s competition. Fortunately, there are a handful of meets left on the schedule. Beginning this week with Zurich and Xiamen. Then finishing up in Brussels and Eugene. So, we get a tad more time to see Noah, Fred, Sha’Carri and Shericka. Along with other champions and those that would like to prove their worth against them. I’ll be back after Zurich and Xiamen.



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