Young American storms to 100m gold in Doha as Gatlin has to settle for second
Christian Coleman produced a stunning performance to become 100m world champion in Doha but, for the second championships in succession, the fastest man on the planet is a figure who is followed by controversy.
The 23-year-old was a clear and impressive winner of the showpiece final as he clocked a world-leading 9.76 (0.6m/sec) to finish ahead of fellow American and defending champion Justin Gatlin’s 9.89 and the personal best 9.90 of Canadian Andre de Grasse.
European champion Zharnel Hughes, the sole Briton to reach the final, was sixth in 10.03.
Coleman, the world indoor 60m champion, has been a class apart from his competitors in the Qatari capital and was the only man to break 10 seconds on the way to the final (he ran 9.98 in the opening day heat and 9.88 in the semi-final).
Yet ever since the US Anti-Doping Agency charged him with missing three drugs tests within 12 months – a charge since withdrawn – the reputation of the man many had previously seen as the new global star of athletics has undoubtedly been damaged.
“I wanted to come out here and compete to the best of my ability. The road to success is never just going to be straight. You’re going to have ups and downs, bumps and bruises along the way.” Comment from Christian Coleman after his world 100m win in Doha #WorldAthleticsChamps pic.twitter.com/FZ6WrWd7m5
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) September 28, 2019
Like Gatlin, booed in London due to his doping past when winning world gold two years ago ahead of his successor, Coleman now has to spend most of his time answering questions about matters other than his sprinting prowess.
That is a great pity given how good he is at his day job. Coleman has never run quicker than he did in the Khalifa Stadium, his time puts him sixth on the world all-time list, and he rose to an occasion preceded by an elaborate light show which saw the competitors’ names and faces emblazoned across the track as they were introduced.
South Africa’s Commonwealth champion Akani Simbine reacted fastest to the gun but it was soon clear who would cross the line first as 37-year-old Gatlin, who made it through from the semi-final as a fastest loser, had to settle for second.
“I’ve been blessed with incredible talent and tonight I was able to show it,” said Coleman. “Being able to come and compete here and run in this race is a dream. I have been working incredibly hard and this just makes it all worthwhile.”
Coleman has gone to great lengths to defend himself but, asked if it had been difficult to handle the attention which surrounds him, he added: “I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult, more disheartening. I feel like logic will prevail in these situations.”
Hughes was at a loss to explain why his body did not respond the way he wanted it to, revealing he felt light-headed as the gun sounded.
“It wasn’t the best race unfortunately for me tonight but hey, congratulations to the winners and the medallists and all the best to them,” he said.
“My body wasn’t feeling up for it. When I pushed out, I just wasn’t feeling myself. I was all over the place and I lost my form and I’m not happy with that, but I live to fight another day.”
Britain’s Adam Gemili took to social media to post a picture of him appearing to finish second in his semi-final, but was adjudged to be third in 10.13 and so missed out on the final.
Team-mate Ojie Edoburun, competing at his first world championships, was sixth in his race with 10.22.
Men’s 100m final stats
Christian Coleman 9.76 WL PB 0.128 (reaction time)
Justin Gatlin 9.89 0.148
Andre De Grasse 9.90 PB 0.140
Akani Simbine 9.93 SB 0.117
Yohan Blake 9.97 0.142
Zharnel Hughes 10.03 0.119
Filippo Tortu 10.07 SB 0.158
Aaron Brown 10.08 0.155
Fraser-Pryce issues a statement of intent
The women’s 100m will be hotly contested and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wasted no time in throwing down the gauntlet to her sprint rivals by winning the opening qualifying heat in 10.80 (-0.2), the fastest time ever recorded at this stage of the competition in the IAAF World Championships.
Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was third-fastest overall in winning heat four with 10.96 (-0.1), while 2017 silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou clinched heat two with 10.85 (-0.3).
Olympic champion and world leader Elaine Thompson also eased through to tomorrow’s semi-final stage in winning heat three with 11.14 (-0.4), while two-time 200m world champion Dafne Schippers progressed with 11.17 (-0.3) from heat six.
Britain’s Daryll Neita produced a personal best of 11.12 (-0.3) to come second in heat two and qualify automatically, while her team-mate Imani Lansiquot’s 11.31 (-0.3) was enough to see her get through from heat six, though Asha Philip does not join them following a run of 11.35 (-0.4) in heat three.
“I’ve run a PB and I know I could have gone a lot faster,” said Neita. “It was a good first run out but I’ve got a lot more to come.”
Warholm waltzes into 400m hurdles final
Defending champion Karsten Warholm was completely untroubled in qualifying fastest for Monday’s 400m hurdles final.
The Norwegian European record-holder eased down as he clocked 48.28 to win the second race, while Brazilian Alison dos Santos ran 48.35 to win the opener and American Rai Benjamin and home favourite Abderrahman Samba both progressed from the third semi-final with times of 48.52 and 48.72 respectively.
Commonwealth champion Kyron McMaster did make it through but his path was not smooth, having to appeal a disqualification after his run of 48.40.
Chris McAlister’s world championships adventure came to an end, though he gave everything he could in clocking a PB of 49.18.
“It was an incredible experience out there,” said the Briton. “Stuck out in lane nine, I had to get out hard and I saw some of the boys really early and I thought ‘I have got to keep going here, I have got to push all the way through’ and I did that, stormed through for a PB which was a great feeling.
“I am so motivated now to get back into winter and keep trying for Tokyo. Lots of hard work to go but we are almost there now.”
Records fall in mixed relay heats
A small slice of athletics history was made with a first IAAF World Championships appearance for the 4x400m mixed relay.
The first qualifying heat of two for tomorrow’s final produced further landmarks, with the USA team winning in a world record of 3:12.42 and the British line-up of Rabah Yousif, Zoey Clark, Emily Diamond and Martyn Rooney finishing fourth but progressing with a European record of 3:12.80.
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) September 28, 2019
Poland took heat two in 3:15.47, while Jamaica, Bahrain, Brazil, India and Belgium were the other nations to qualify.
“I loved it,” said Diamond of the contest. “I always love relays. I have been part of the relay programme for a fair few years now. I loved taking part and it is another opportunity to represent your country and it was really fun being part of the team today and something a bit different. Hopefully we can go out there again tomorrow and really fight for a medal.”