Bolt holds off Gatlin to keep 100m crown on World Athletics day two
Usain Bolt defied his injury-hit season to become a three-time World Athletics 100m champion with a gutsy win over controversial American athlete Justin Gatlin.
Jamaican sensation and world record holder Bolt had to dig deep just to make the final after an abysmal start to his semi, but grabbed a ninth global Gold medal, winning in Beiing’s Bird Nest in 9.79 seconds.
Gatlin, the fastest man in the world this season, had to settle for Silver and was just behind Bolt, who is odds-on at 4/9 to complete the sprint double by defending his 200m title.
A shared Bronze medal for youngsters Andre De Grasse (Canada) and Trayvon Brommel (USA) on their World Athletics Championships debuts perhaps hints at the future of men’s sprinting.
There was more Gold medal glory for Team GB as Jessica Ennis-Hill regained the world Heptathlon title, beating pre-championships favourite Brianne Theisen-Eaton in the two-day multi-discipline event.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson blew her medal chances by failing to make a legal mark in event five, the long jump. Her third attempt was mere millimeters away from being given the white flag, but a small indentation in the Plasticine meant she saw red.
Poland hammer thrower Pawel Fajdek dominated en route to retaining his title, throwing almost 3m further than compatriot Wojciecj Nowicki, who had to settle for Bronze behind Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov after both men recorded the same best effort but did better based on previous attempts.
The USA’s Joe Kovacs took men’s shot put Gold, with a best throw of 21m 93cm ahead of German David Storl and O’Dayne Richards of Jamaica, who set a new area record for the Caribbean.
British women’s 400m Hurdles duo Meghan Beesley, who ran a new personal best of 54.52 seconds, and Eilidh Child joined the elite ladies in making it through the heats.
American athlete Cassandra Tate was fastest in round one with a time of 54.27, though defending champion Zuzana Hejnova remains odds-on 4/6 favourite for a second world Gold.
High-profile names in the men’s event continued to bow out as Javier Culson, Johnny Dutch and LJ van Zyl all missed out on the final. The semis produced three personal bests (Denis Kudryavtsev, Boniface Mucheru Tumuti and Patryk Dobek) and two national records (Jeffrey Gibson, Bahamas; and Yasmani Copello, Turkey).
This left the American contingent, Kerron Clement and Michael Tinsley, will thus not have it all their own way in the final on Tuesday.
On the flat round one lap of the track, new respective area and national records were set by Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi and Jamaican up-and-comer Rusheen McDonald with equal efforts of 43.93. Both hold of 10/1 to win the men’s 400m after their first round exploits.
Kirani James remains favourite, but moved out from evens to 5/4 after a more modest victory in his heat. South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk (7/4) remains the main danger to the Grenada sprinter, and reigning world champ LaShawn Merritt is 10/1 to successfully defend the title.
The women’s 100m got underway, and all the big names made serene progress through round one. Team GB’s Asha Philip is also into the semis. Reigning world champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce remains odds-on 4/11 favourite to retain her title.
Strong women’s 1500m favourite Genzebe Dibaba made it through to the final, and will be joined there by Britain’s Laura Muir and Jenny Simpson of the USA. The main danger looks like coming from Africa as expected, though, through fellow Ethiopian athlete Dawit Seyaum. Don’t discount Sifan Hassan, who represents the Netherlands.
And finally, Nijel Amos, favourite for the men’s 800m, made a shock semi-final exit, and that has now opened the way for world record holder David Rudisha to regain this world title.
Defending champ Mohammed Aman, another African, is also through to the final, though, and Bosnia’s Amel Tuka recorded the fastest time in reaching it with 1:44.84 ahead of experienced athlete Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, as all three Kenyans advanced.