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Thursday, 17 September 2015 20:52

A Night of Peaks and Valleys in Beijing

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Shawn Barber captures gold. Shawn Barber captures gold. www.PhotoRun.net
A night with some strange turns and twists on Day 3 of the World Championships. As David Hunter, one of team in Beijing noted, " Northern Ohio will be very excited tonight, with Shawn Barber's gold medal in the pole vault and Emily Infeld's bronze in the 10,000 meters!"
 
And that was an understatement.
 
Pole Vault: Shawn Barber Upsets
The pole vault was supposed to be a done deal. Renaud Lavillenie has been jumping great, and cleared 6.05m in June and 6.03 in London. In the London Diamond League, Shawn Barber, fresh from his Pan Am gold medal, cleared all four of his heights in London, up to and including 5.93 meters, and finally missed at 6.03 meters. Lavillenie cleared 6.03 meters, missing at 6.10 meters.
 
In Beijing, Shawn Barber cleared 5.50 meters, 5.65 meters, 5.80 meters all on the first attempts. Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.80 meters as well, aslo on his first attempt.
 
Now the real story in the pole vault was that sixteen guys had cleared 5.70 meters in the qualifying round. Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 champion, was having a difficult night. Raphel cleared 5.65m on his first attempt, but took two attempts at 5.80m, and three attempts at 5.90 meters.
 
Pawel Wojciechowski cleared 5.65m on his first, 5.80 on his first, and could not clear 5.90m on his three attempts. His countrymen, Piotr Lisek, cleared 5.50m on his first, 5.65m on his first, and 5.80m on his first, also missing three attempts at 5.90 meters.
 
Shawn Barber, as is his modus operandi, cleared 5.90m on his first attempt. Raphael Holzdeppe cleared 5.90 meters on his third.
 
Renaud Lavlillenie missed all three attempts at 5.90 meters, and tied with the two Polish jumpers for the bronze.
 
Shawn Barber looked dazed, as the Pan Am champ just added a gold medal in the World Champs to his burgeoning medal chest!
 
Women's 10,000 meters: Race not over until after finish line
 
A strange and curious 10,000 meters. A pace where no one dropped early, as Yuka Takahashi, JPN, lead the 1000m in 3:13.74, 2000m in 6:27.87. Rei Ohara, Jpn, lead the 3000m in 9:40.47 as all of the contenders were together, with Vivian Cheruiyot, Gelete Burka, Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan and Emily Infeld were all there.
 
What, three Americans, are you delusional?
 
Nope, all three Americans were there, menacing as the race dawdled.
 
Rei OHara lead the 4000 meters in 12:54.99, and 5,000 meters in 16:11.99. I remember watching and saying to myself, " Oh, this is a perfect race for Molly Huddle."
 
Sara Moreira took the lead through six kilometers in 19:23.01 as the pack dropped to ten. Alemitu Heroye, Belaynehs Oljire, both of Ethiopia, were the leaders at 7000 meters in 22:31.01, with Molly Huddle right there, and Vivian Cheruiyot looking relaxed and ready to pounce.
 
Vivian Cheruiyot took over at 800 meters, hit in 25:43.61 and began to move. Oljira, Betsy Saina, Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan, Sally Kipyego and Emily Infeld, who had so impressed us at the US champs were all there.
 
Molly Huddle had the lead at 9000 meters with Alemitu Heroye, hitting that milestone in 28:52.55. Kipyego Infeld, Cheruiyot, Flanagan, were all there.
 
Over the next lap it got tough, as the players started checking each other out, as Vivian Cheruiyot, Gelete Burka, Molly Huddle, and Emily Infeld, who no one, even moi, was watching.
 
The bell was hit in 30:39 and the race was off, as ten runners sprinted like mad. Molly Huddle had a slight lead, but not for long, as first Vivian Cheruiyot, then, Gelete Burka, then, Sally Kipyego took off.
 
Molly Huddle battled her way into third and as Cheruiyot and Burke took off, destined to fight for gold and silver, Emily Infeld was charging down the final straight, and I mean flying!
 
Molly Huddle had no clue, and raised her arms just at the finish as Emily Infeld went by here, taking the bronze at the finish line.
 
Sally Kipyego finished fifth and Shalane Flanagan finished sixth!
 
Vivian Cheruiyot won in 31:41.31, Gelete Burka was silver in 31:41.77, and Emily Infeld was third in 31:43.49, with Molly Huddle in 31:43.58. Sally Kipyego in 31:44.42 and Shalane Flanaga in 31:46.23.
 
Emily Infeld had run her race, and won the bronze, with Huddle, and Flanagan adding up to the best performance by US women ever, as Infeld tied Kara Gouchers' bronze in 2007!
 
Steeple: Ezekial Kemboi is king of the steeplechase
 
The pace was dawdling. Consesius Kipruto took the pack through 1000 meters in 2:49.50 and the 2000 meters through 5:36.77 (2:47.27).
 
Evan Jager was perfectly poised each step. The bell lap was hit in 7:14.57, and Evan Jager looked ready to pounce. At 300 meters to go, Ezekial Kemboi took off, adding to his two Olympic golds, three World silver, three World golds with another World gold, winning in 8:11.28. Consesius Kipruto took the silver in 8:12.38, and Brimin Kipruto was third in 8:12.54. Jarius Birech, the fastest man in the world in 2015, was fourth in 8:12.62.
 
For Evan Jager, it was a difficult day. As Kemboi, both Kiprutos and Birech went by, Jager began to falter, and Dan Huling came charging by, taking fifth from Jager in 8:14.39, as the American record holder finished an exhausted sixth place in 8:15.47.
 
What could Jager have done? Perhaps the Paris race format, where he went out and pushed the whole way could have broken them up, but, for whatever reasons, Evan Jager battled them and when the kicking started, he had nothing left.
 
For Jager, it will have to be another day.
 
Women's 100 meters: Pocket Rocket takes gold
 
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is just not someone to fool around with. SAFP ran 10.82 with Blessing Okagbare in 10.89 in the first semi final. Tori Bowie ran 10.87, with Kelly-Ann Baptiste in the second semi final. In the third semi-final, Dafne Schippers ran 10.83 NR, battling Veronice Campbell-Brown, who ran 10.89!
 
The final was set.
 
 
Dafne Schippers had the fastest reaction time (.129), but Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce battled on and her top line speed just provided the edge, as SAFP won in 10.76, and Schippers, taking the silver, and setting a second NR for the day with her fine 10.81!
 
Tori Bowie, who surprised many with her poise and bronze medal, really had an amazing race. Bowie was in sixth place with thirty meters to go, but kept running well, and took out four competitors in the last twenty meters. Very few times have I seen a young athlete show such poise and grace.
 
The race was deep! VCB was fourth in 10.91, Michelle-Lee Ayhe, 10.98 and Kelly-Ann Baptiste, 11.01. Natasha Morrison ran 11.02 for sevent and Blessing Okagbare ran 11.02 for eighth.
 
Just a strange evening.
 
I had expected Molly Huddle to be in the medal fight, and she was. I just did not expect to see her loose the medal in the very last steps, but that is our sport.
 
And for Evan Jager, another athlete I admire, I wanted to see him take a medal and it just was not his day. And for Tori Bowie, one of my new favorites, she kept the tension down and ran the way her Coach suggested.
 
A strange evening...
 
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