Wayde van Niekerk takes 400m title on World Athletics day five
South Africa celebrated a Gold medal on day five of the World Athletics Championships, as 400m sprinter Wayde van Niekerk defeated former winners LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James in 43.48 seconds. This was the fourth fastest time round one lap of the track in history.
Moscow world champ Merritt ran out very hard and had to settle for Silver as a result, while Grenada’s London Olympics Gold medallist James could not close the gap on Van Niekerk and finished third.
Zuzana Hejnova defended the women’s 400m hurdles in impressive fashion, outclassing her opposition to take Gold in a world lead time of 53/50 seconds. American duo Shamier Little and Cassandra Tate took the other medals. Great Britain’s Eilidh Child came sixth.
In the field, Cuba took Gold in the women’s pole vault with world leader and pre-championships favourite Yarisley Silva going over 4m 90cm to better Fabiana Murer, who will have home advantage on Brazilian soil at next summer’s Olympics.
Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou had to settle for Bronze, while British vaulter Holly Bradshaw ended up in a surprise seventh place.
Commonwealth men’s javelin champion Julius Yego followed up his Glasgow success last summer with a huge 92m 72cm that obliterated the field, giving Kenya their first-ever field Gold medal. Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed scooped Silver and Tero Pitkamaki of Finland pipped German Thomas Rohler to Bronze.
Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi ensured there was a Kenyan clean sweep of Steeplechase Golds, as she followed up Ezekiel Kemboi’s triumph, winning a sprint finish in 9:19.11, denying much fancied Tunisian athlete Habiba Ghribi.
Plucky German runner Gesa Felicitas Krause ran a personal best to bag Bronze, meaning Ethiopian couple Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew finished outside the medals alongside the USA’s Emma Coburn.
World 100m champion Usain Bolt joined rival Justin Gatlin in the 200m final, and the Jamaican sensation, who holds both sprint world records, remains an odds-on 2/5 favourite to do the double. Controversial American sprinter Gatlin is 7/4 to improve on 100m Silver.
In the morning session, there were impressive qualifications in field events as the women’s hammer and men’s triple jump got underway. Anita Wlodarczyk is overwhelming odds-on 1/33 favourite to throw further than anyone else.
As dominant as the Pole has been, France’s Alexandra Tavernier (14/1), who launched at personal best effort of 74m 39cm to reach the final, will target further improvement.
Gold after a hop, step and jump into the sand pit, meanwhile, is going to be between 18m-plus athletes Pedro Pablo Pichardo (odds-on at 8/11) and Olympic champion Christian Taylor (evens).
World and Commonwealth women’s 800m champion Eunice Jepkoech Sum came through her first round fine, and remains 1/3 to defend the title. Sifan Hassan, representing the Netherlands, will want to improve on her 1500m Silver behind Genzebe Dibaba, but is 11/2 to upset the Kenyan.
USA pair David Oliver and world record holder Aries Merritt were fastest over the men’s sprint hurdles, though the latter needs a kidney transplant after Beijing. Oliver is odds-on at 4/5 to retain the world 110m title and Merritt is much longer at 11/1.
Team GB’s Mo Farah remains a firm 1/4 favourite to complete another World Athletics Championships long-distance double, despite an unnecessary sprint finish by multiple athletes in his 5k heat.
Dina Asher-Smith continued her development by running a personal best 22.22 seconds in the women’s 200m heats and that proved fastest, so she is 12/1 to take Gold. Dafne Schippers, a Silver medallist over 100m, remains a firm favourite to do better round the bend, though at 2/7.