DOHA: Noah Lyles led a triumphant night for the United States on Tuesday at the World Athletics Championships just hours after the sport had been rocked by the suspension of controversial coach Alberto Salazar.
Lyles produced a courageous performance to win the 200 metres title, whilst Donovan Brazier — who was part of the Nike Oregon Project that Salazar ran — became the first American to win the 800m world crown.
Sam Kendricks was the third American to take gold, coming out on top in the men’s pole vault and joining legend Sergey Bubka in being the only men to successfully defend the title. Lyles took time to get going but once he did and drew alongside Briton Adam Gemili he powered away — crossing the line and hugging his mother.
Despite some comparing Lyles to retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt — the American has run faster than him both over 100 and 200m at 22 years of age — he said they were very different. “Don’t say I’m the new Bolt,” he said. “I’m me. If you like me, I’ll happily entertain you. It’s my time.”
Brazier showed no sign of being affected by the four-year suspension of Salazar earlier on Tuesday breaking the 32-year-old championship record of Kenya’s Billy Koncellah. The 22-year-old American charged clear down the back straight on the final lap to coast home in 1min 42.34 sec.
Brazier professed to be unaware of the investigation into Salazar when he joined the project and hoped his moment of glory would not be tainted. “I think it would be really ignorant to associate me with that,” he said. “To even think that would be pretty ignorant.
“I’m just very sad. I’ve had communication with Alberto, never been trained by him, but he is a good guy, and seeing him getting kind of bad reputation, it hurt him a lot.” Kendricks beat Sweden’s European champion Armand Duplantis on countback when both failed to go over at 6.02 metres having succeeded at 5.97m in a final conducted notably in a sportsmanlike manner.
“Is it the best? That is a hard phrase to justify it is certainly the most memorable,” said Hendricks. “The drama of the last hour made it one of the best, it was hard. “You don’t win the pole vault by defence, you win it with offense.”
The American monopoly was broken by Australian Kelsey-Lee Barber who won gold in the final throw of the javelin to become the first from her country to win a world title in the discipline. “Any medalist of any colour is a huge thing in Australia,” said Barber. “It was a matter of clearing your mind in the final round it is one thing to say you are going to do it it is another to execute it so I am really happy.”
Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s bid to add world 400m gld to her Olypic title stayed on course as the Bahamas star sauntered through her semi-final.
The 25-year-old — who opted for the event she calls “her baby” rather than the 200m — said she had extra motivation to succeed at the championships due to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Dorian last month.
The island communities of Grand Bahama and Abaco bore the brunt of Dorian’s leaving 52 people dead with over 1,000 listed as missing. “Definitely I want to make my country proud,” said Miller-Uibo, who has donated $25,000 to a fund she has set up.
“A lot of people are really supporting the fund and raising money.” Dina Asher-Smith looks a warm favourite to become Britain’s first female world sprint champion as she recorded the fastest time in her 200m semi-final of 22.16sec.
Her chances of doing so were also aided by the no-show of Olympic 200m champion Elaine Thompson, adding to the stars who withdrew from the event including two-time defending champion Dafne Schippers. – AFP