Day 5 Recap: Wayde van Niekerk Wins a Blazing 400 in 43.48; Julius Yego’s 92.72 Bomb in Javelin Keeps Kenya’s Golden Championships Going
August 26, 2015
BEIJING – Here we briefly recap all the action from the evening session on Wednesday (day five) of the 2015 IAAF World Championships which was highlighted with arguably the greatest 400m race ever run, a crazy finish in the women’s steeple, and a big throw in the javelin. In future days if you’d like to watch races without knowing the results, click here.
Men’s 400: The Greatest 400-Meter Race Ever?
The highlight on night five at the Bird’s Nest was undoubtedly the men’s 400, won by South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk in a blazing 43.48. How good was it? LaShawn Merritt, a two-time world champ and 2008 Olympic champ, ran a PR and still only finished second. Behind van Niekerk, Merritt (43.65) and 2011 world/2012 Olympic champ Kirani James of Grenada (43.78) also broke 44.00, making it the first time in history that three men eclipsed that barrier in the same race.
Merritt took the race out hard, but he was no match for van Niekerk in the final straight as the 23-year-old powered to victory before collapsing after crossing the finish line. Van Niekerk would later have to be stretchered off the track due to exhaustion, go to the hospital and be released.
|Pl.||Athlete / Team||Cnt.||Birth||Result||Score|
|1.||Wayde VAN NIEKERK||RSA||92||43.48||1288||WL, AR|
|8.||Youssef Ahmed MASRAHI||KSA||87||45.15||1169|
After tonight’s race, the all-time performers list at 400 now reads like this:
1. Michael Johnson, 43.18
2. Butch Reynolds, 43.29
3. Jeremy Wariner, 43.45
4. Wayde van Niekerk, 43.48 (finished first tonight)
5. Quincy Watts, 43.50
6. LaShawn Merritt, 43.65 (finished first tonight)
7. Isaac Makwala, 43.72 (finished fourth tonight)
8. Kirani James, 43.74 (finished third tonight)
Look a little further down the list and you’ll find Yousef Masrahi (T-12th, 8th in final) and Rusheen McDonald (T-12th, didn’t make final). To win a medal tonight, you had to run 43.78 or faster. That time would have won the gold medal in 2011 — by almost a full second! Luguelin Santos, the Olympic bronze medalist, ran a PR of 44.11 (after PR’ing in the semis two days ago) and didn’t even medal.
Quick Take #1: The men’s 400 is going to be very good for a long time
Merritt, at 29, may only have a few years left at an elite level (though that’s tough to say after he just ran a PR), but van Niekerk (23), James (22), Santos (21) all have the potential to improve in the years to come. Watching those two battle for the next two Olympic cycles will be a real treat for fans of the one-lap race.
Quick Take #2: Don’t run too fast in the prelims
The final was the first race in history in which three men broke 44.00, but it almost happened earlier in the meet — in heat 2 of the first round on Sunday. In that race, Yousef Masrahi (43.93) and Rusheen McDonald (43.93) both went under and Makwala almost missed in 44.19.
Though they have some excuse for running that fast — the heat was loaded, as it also contained European champ Martyn Rooney and World Indoor champ Pavel Maslak — it really came back to bite them as McDonald went out in the semis while Masrahi finished last in the final in a much slower time (45.15).
Quick Take #3: Switching Coaches Pays Off For Merritt:
LaShawn Merritt switched coaches this year to Brooks Johnson from Loren Seagrave. Until Worlds, the results were mixed at best as Merritt had not even won USAs. That was all forgotten with tonight’s run in Beijing. A lifetime PR when it mattered most, but it wasn’t enough to win.
Merritt told us afterwards he thought it would take 43-mid to win and he remarked afterwards that it wouldn’t have been good enough. Sometimes you get beat by a better man and that happened today. Merritt has a knack for running best when it counts. His previous pr of 43.74 was set in winning the 2013 Worlds.
Merritt: “I was out in lane 8 and feel like I handled it well. I got off the curve and ran like I was supposed to, but the guy that won it was on 43.4 pace. And you know, that’s running. That’s running. I hadn’t ran well all year, but I’m a championship guy. I love the sport, I love the lights and I knew I had to just come out and execute a race and that’s what I did. And I’ll take the personal best. I’ll take the silver and shine it up really nice and add it to my collection.”
Interview with James:
James is a class act and still has a very bright feature. The 2011 World Champ is still only 22 (younger than van Niekerk). It’s worth remembering James won Worlds as an 18-year-old in 2011 (in a modest 44.60).
Men’s Javelin: Kenya’s Incredible Meet Continues with Another Gold Medal
Kenya’s Julius Yego entered as the world leader thanks to his 91.39 in Birmingham on June 7, the longest throw in the world in 12 years. There was some question as to whether that throw was fair or foul, but there was no doubt about Yego’s best toss tonight as he uncorked a 92.72 on his third attempt, the eighth-farthest throw of all time. Only the Czech Republic’s Jan Zelezny and Finland’s Aki Parviainen have ever thrown further.
Yego’s win extended his country’s dominance of these championships as Kenya now has six gold medals (Great Britain is next with three; the U.S. only has one) and 11 overall (the U.S. is next with nine). The U.S. will surely overhaul Kenya in the overall medal count as it’s still got the women’s 400 (Allyson Felix), men’s triple jump (Christian Taylor), decathlon (Ashton Eaton), both high hurdles and all the relays still to come, but with another Kenyan gold likely in the women’s 800 (Eunice Sum), it could be tough to pass them when it comes to golds.
Yego’s win wasn’t exactly surprising coming in considering his throw in Birmingham, but it’s still phenomenal that Kenyan athletes won both the men’s 400 hurdles and javelin while its top men’s marathon finisher was 22nd.
|POS||BIB||ATHLETE||COUNTRY||MARK||DETAIL||Attempt 1||Attempt 2||Attempt 3||Attempt 4||Attempt 5||Attempt 6|
|2||415||Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed||EGY||88.99||SB||86.07||88.99||X||X||X||X|
Women’s 400 Hurdles: Zuzana Hejnova Repeats as Shamier Little Gets Silver
Injuries restricted Hejnova to just three races last year, but she came back with a vengeance this year. After third-place finishes in her first two DL races in Birmingham and Oslo in early June, Hejnova ran 53.76 to win in Paris on July 4 and hasn’t lost since. Her 53.50 winning time tonight was her best since the DL final in Zurich two years ago.
Behind Hejnova, the U.S. earned two medals as NCAA/US/World Junior champion Shamier Little of Texas A&M finished second in 53.94 while Cassandra Tate was third in 54.02.
|Pl.||Athlete / Team||Cnt.||Birth||Result||Score|
|7.||Wenda THERON NEL||RSA||88||54.94||1175|
Little struggled in the first round, as she was only fourth in her heat in 56.47 (.04 from going home) but she picked it up in the semis (54.86) and ran her third-fastest race of the season tonight in the final. Little is clearly someone who rises to the occasion as her three fastest times this year came at NCAAs, USAs and the World Championship final. Last year she was world junior champ and now she’s made the jump to silver at Worlds (she said she didn’t even imagine making this jump last year, but always has been a big fan of the Olympics after doing a report on Wilma Rudolph in kindergarten).
Little explained her struggles in the first round were due to not racing for almost a month (she raced almost non-stop from January to late June but only ran Pan Ams between USAs and Worlds) but that once she got back to being herself, she was able to run well in the final.
So with a US title and a silver medal at Worlds, Little must be thinking of turning pro with an Olympic year on the horizon, right?
Not so fast. Check out the name of her Twitter account:
Silver Medalist 😌 pic.twitter.com/ElIQlzrZ2T
— Shamier Little (@shambambino) August 26, 2015
Interview with Little:
Women’s Pole Vault: Cuba’s Yarisley Silva Comes Through in the Clutch
Silva, the 2014 World Indoor champ, has come close several times recently outdoors (5th in 2011, 2nd at 2012 Olympics, 3rd in 2013) and finally earned that elusive gold medal despite putting her back against the wall several times. She almost left without a medal at all as she required three attempts to clear 4.70. That put her behind Brazil’s Fabiana Murer as both were the only women to clear 4.85. She missed her first two attempts at 4.90 but came through with a huge clearance on her third try to vault into the lead. Once Murer missed her final attempt at 4.90, Silva officially earned the gold.
Women’s Steeplechase: Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Wins Wild Steeple Final as Emma Coburn Settles for Fifth
You can read a detailed steeple recap here – Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Wins Wild Steeple Final as Emma Coburn Settles for Fifth – and it’s worth a read as the race featured an incredibly exciting finish. Five people were battling for gold over the final 200 and the top three were side by side entering the final barrier. In the end, the Kenyan champ Kiyeng was the winner, Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi got the silver and Germany’s Gesa-Felicitas Krause was a surprising third as American Emma Coburn struggled over the final 100 and had to settle for fifth.
|1||561||Hyvin Kiyeng JEPKEMOI||KEN||9:19.11|
|3||434||Gesa Felicitas KRAUSE||GER||9:19.25||PB|
|7||572||Virginia Nyambura NGANGA||KEN||9:26.21|
|8||466||Lalita Shivaji BABAR||IND||9:29.64|
|10||601||Salima ELOUALI ALAMI||MAR||9:32.15|
|14||606||Fadwa SIDI MADANE||MAR||9:41.45|
There was little drama in the 200 semis as all the favorites made it through to tomorrow’s final, including Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin. The biggest name to go home was reigning silver medalist Warren Weir of Jamaica, but Weir hasn’t been running well in 2015 (20.24 SB) so it wasn’t a surprise to see him finish seventh in heat 1 in 20.43.
Gatlin led the qualifiers with a 19.87 out of heat 2, while Bolt (who jogged a 19.95) and Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes (20.14) won the other heats.
Semifinal 1, Wind: +0.4
Semifinal 2, Wind: -0.2
Semifinal 3, Wind: +0.8
Women’s 200 1st Round: All the Favorites Advance, Led by Dina Asher-Smith’s 22.22 PB
With no Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, this event is wide-open and all the big names advanced, including Americans Jenna Prandini, Jeneba Tarmoh and Candycs McGrone, Jamaicans Elaine Thompson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson and the Netherlands’ 100 silver medalist Dafne Schippers.
There were two interesting developments. First, Prandini, who would be a senior at Oregon next year, announced to USATF.TV that she is turning professional (likely with Puma, as those are the spikes she wore during the race).
Second, Campbell-Brown was allowed to advance despite clearly leaving her lane during the home straight of her heat:
Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown moves into another runner's lane in her heat. Oops. pic.twitter.com/MvACXIHAjg
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) August 26, 2015
Heat 1, Wind: -0.9
Heat 2, Wind: +0.2
Heat 3, Wind: 0.0
Heat 4, Wind: +0.2
Heat 5, Wind: +0.1
Heat 6, Wind: +0.2
Heat 7, Wind: +0.4