Day Five of the IAAF World Championship stuck mainly to it’s script with Qatar’s high jump icon Mutaz Barshim qualifying for the high jump final while Noah Lyles justified his heavy favourite's tag by winning the 200 metres gold.
With the home crowd’s focus firmly on him, defending champion Barshim cruised into the high jump final, keeping Qatar’s hopes of a golden glory alive. The 28-year-old, who has barely competed since his 14-month absence due to a serious ankle injury, looked in imperious form as he soared past 2.29 meters and seal his place for Friday’s final.
The night at the Khalifa International Stadium ended on a predictable note, as the American Lyles romped to a 200m triumph for his first world title.
Australia's Kelsey-Lee Barber celebrates winning Women's Javelin Throw gold, at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha
The Diamond League winner took the victory in 19.83 seconds, 0.12 faster than Andre de Grasse of Canada. Alex Quinonez of Ecuador finished third in 19.98.
The 22-year-old Lyles has been in a league of his own this year, having lost only once -- to Michael Norman on June 6 in Rome. Britain’s Adam Gemili was the best starter but Lyles took charge with 70 metres remaining and never let his lead slip. He pulled clear of the chasing pack with ease, even as a tiring Gemili missed out on a medal by just 0.05-seconds.
Lyles’s celebration was low key, unlike for a man who had won his maiden world title, as he wrapped the US’ flag and just smiled at the cameras. Later, he spoke about how he had dreamed of this moment a million times.
“So many times this year I've thought of being world champion, you wouldn't believe it -- I have on my phone, I say it to myself in my car, I think it all the time -- and finally to have done it feels unbelievable. I don't know how many people come to their first World Championships and get the gold, but I've done it,” said Lyles.
Noah Lyles of the US celebrates winning Men's 200 Metres gold at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha
“I just knew no matter what position I found myself in I can always find a way to come through. And when I crossed the line I just felt relief. This time last year I'd only just started running. Think of that. Don't say I'm the new Bolt. I'm me. If you like me, I'll happily entertain you. It's my time,” the confident American added.
Lyles’ gold was US’ third of the night, after wins for Sam Kendricks in the pole vault and Donavan Brazier in the 800m.
The most captivating contest of the night came in the men’s pole vault final, as Kendricks defended his world title. The American was pushed to the limit by 19-year-old sensation Armand Duplantis of Sweden.
Kendricks was always the man to beat in the final, and the talented Duplantis came tantalisingly close to doing so in a thriller, which brought the crowd to it’s feet on more than one occasion.
Duplantis was aiming to become the youngest world champion in the event since Sergey Bubka, who at 19 years and 253 days won the first of his six world titles in Helsinki in 1983.
On the other hand, Kendricks was attempting to emulate Bubka by winning the world title consecutive times.
USA's Donavan Brazier celebrates after winning the Men's 800m final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha
Kendricks and Duplantis both cleared 5.97 meters, the best height at a world championship since 2001. However, the 27-year-old Kendricks took the title because he had fewer failures at lower heights, four compared to five for Duplantis.
After an exhausting final where they attempted to clear 6.02, the pair embraced each other before collapsing onto the mat. Poland’s Piotr Lisek picked up a bronze as all three went in for a lap of honour.
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil settled for fifth with a best of 5.70. World record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France was missing from the final after becoming the biggest name to bow out in qualifying.
“I am elated, stunned, excited all at the same time. It's almost hard to take it in. To have three men over six all going for it made it such a memorable night. We weren't dueling as enemies, but as rivals and friends,” Kendricks said.
The women’s javelin throw too was no short of drama, with Kelsey-Lee Barber final throw of 66.56m making her the first Australian to win a world javelin title. Shiying Liu (65.88) and Huihui Lyu (65.49) of China settled for silver and bronze respectively.
Lyu had won 12 successive meets coming into Doha Worlds, but could not replicate her best performance. As the result was thrown on a big screen, Barber collapsed to the ground in disbelief.
Meanwhile, Donavan Brazier of the US broke the championship and national record to win the men’s 800m in some style. Brazier took command of the field at the halfway point and ran away with a convincing victory in 1:42.34 seconds, ahead of Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1:43.47. A late surge gave Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich the bronze medal in 1:43.47.
“I've said all season that my goal was to get the gold here and to break this record, and that's what I did. It means the world to me. To be world champion at 22 years old, I can't believe it,” said a delighted Brazier.
“The plan was always to take it on with 300 to go and go from there, no matter what the pace was. I really had to dig deep for it. To be the first from US to win a world 800m title feels wonderful. I hope I get some love for it back home,” he added.
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