Zach Ziemek skies toward his first international championship medal
My first true experience with track and field as a fan was the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I remember sitting on my living room couch and watching Carl Lewis match overtake his hero Jesse Owens. Though I was a long-distance runner, I appreciated the fact his feats obtained were gold medals in the 100, 200, long jump, and 4x100 relay. This brings me to document some of the great highlights of the World Championships.
10. Evan Jager- 6th place- Steeplechase
I can't tell you how happy I was for Evan Jager. I knew that he had been injured on and off over the past several years and to even make the team was a joy. He took it a step further by earning a qualifying spot into the 3000m final with a time of 8:18.44. The final would be much slower overall for the field. That's ok because it comes down to tactics in races such as a final. Jager was in the medal mix for virtually the entire time and was boxed in on the final lap. It's almost impossible to negotiate a bad position because of the hurdle and water jumps. Unfortunately, Jager was not able to gain enough momentum and would finish sixth in 8:29.08. The winner was the world leader and Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco in 8:25.13.
9. 110 meter high hurdles-
The winner of the hurdles races is never guaranteed until they cross the finish line. Remember in last year's Tokyo Olympic final when American great Grant Holloway finished second after being billed as the heavy favorite? Furthermore, tensions were heavy for the final as one of the medal favorites Devon Allen of the United States was disqualified for a positive block reaction. It appeared as if the technology failed miserably. Not only was it unfortunate for the hometown hero Allen but the entire field whose great performances were overshadowed. Holloway would hold off Trey Cunningham of the United States 13.03-13.08.
8. Zach Ziemek nabs the decathlon bronze medal-
My heart along with every fan poured out for one of our sons who competed in the sport's most unforgiving event. The former Lake Park HS and U of Wisconsin standout put himself in contention from the first event. He ran 10.57 in the 100m and tallied 4460 points on day one. The discus throw and pole vault as well as the javelin kept him in contention leading into the final event. It was a bit painful watching Ziemek run the 1500m. His time was nothing to write home about but the fact that he earned a bronze medal was priceless!
7. Barshim dazzles in the high jump-
Mutaz Barshim is one of the most entertaining figures in the sport. The fact that he is a high jumper makes it cooler. Barshim rocks the bubble shades when he competes and is super animated when he clears rare air. It was that feeling as he reached for his fourth world title. He did not miss a height until after winning at a world leading 2.37 (7'9.25"). The bar would be raised to 2.42 or 7'11.25 and he bowed out after one attempt.
6. Michael Norman wins the 400m-
There is no doubt this young man had a tremendous amount of pressure heaped upon him. That's what happens when you are the world leader coming in and many pundits believe you are going to fall short. Norman would not be deterred even with past world champion Kirani James of Grenada on his tail. The poise in which Norman displayed was amazing and he came home smooth in 44.29.
5. USA sweeps the shot put-
This of course was a great event to watch- power and strength. Joe Kovacs put some big pressure on his buddy Ryan Crouser out of the gate with a 22.69 toss. Crouser is the world record holder as well as defending world champion. He is also the ultimate son of Hayward Field, participating in many events going back to middle-school. He would respond with on fifth throw that ended any talk of an upset- 22.94 (75'3.25"). Kovacs took second and teammate Josh Awotude copped third.
4. Jake Wightman's surprise win in the 1500m-
All of the house money was on Olympic champion and superstar Jakob Ingebrigsten of Norway and challenger Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya. From the gun, it was a hot pace that reached 1:51 for the 800m. Jake Wightman of Great Britain was been a big player in the Diamond League but never in the high medal discussion. On this occasion, he was able to stick to Ingebrigsten and Cheruiyot like glue. With 200m remaining, Wightman moved into the lead and held on to the win in a world-leading 3:29.23. The public address announcer was his father and coach Geoff Wightman. I got chills watching one of the most exciting metric mile races ever, so the family obviously was on cloud 9.
3. Noah Lyles leads USA 200m sweep-
The tension between Noah Lyles and prodigy Erriyon Knighton seemed to quell once the championships began. It also appeared as though Lyles took command of this event from the moment he stepped on the track in the first round. Lyles went under 20.00 in all three rounds including a blazing 19.62 in the semi's. Knighton held his own as did "Kung fu" Kenny Bednarek.
Could the American trio produce a sweep? Well, Lyles held up his end of the deal by quickly eating up the curve and blazing home in an American Record 19.31! Breaking the iconic Michael Johnson's record and establishing a world-leading time. Bednarek with the headband draped like a tightrope copped the silver medal in 19.77. Knighton brought the broom in 19.80. The best part of it all was the genuine love between them all.
2. Mondo sets pole vault world record
This kid reminds me of Michael Jordan in his prime. Mondo Duplantis is so cold-blooded in the pole vault. He is virtually untouchable and seemed to be mad about something earlier in the competition. Did he hear someone doubt him or say something out of pocket? Ahh, it was a missed attempt at 5.87 meters (19'3.25"). The world's greatest vaulter was essentially in a deficit. That would be his last miss until he asked for the bar to be placed to a new world record height 6.21 (20'4.5"). Mondo bailed on the first attempt but nailed the second one to bring the crowd to a raucous! There was nothing like it whether you are a fan of the vault or not.
1. The United States go 1,2,3, in the 100m-
This is what general track & field fans will revel in the most. Every kid wants to be a miler or a 100 yard dash champ. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Carl Lewis. In this instance, my son thinks Fred Kerley is faster than FLASH! Cool, Kerley was hell-bent on doing just that, running 9.79 in the opening round. This was the first ever opener and a shot sent around the world. That was all he needed, coasting into the final and ready to be a part of history.
American teammates Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell got out like bank robbers on Kerley but patience by the world's top speedster paid off. Kerley was able to use his turbo booster and by an eyelash win the crown in 9.86. The other two lads clocked 9.88 and the celebration immediately began to reign down on the fans.