4th August 2017
SIR MO REIGNS SUPREME ON OPENING NIGHT OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sir Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) was roared home to 10,000m world gold as the crowd rose to their feet in celebration, capping off a superb opening night of competition at the IAAF World Championships.
The 34-year-old defended his title in style, charging down the home straight at the London Stadium to secure a remarkable sixth world gold medal.
Farah had started the race as he so often does, dropping towards the rear of the field, but as the athletes stretched out the Olympic champion always made sure he was part of the leading pack.
With just over three laps remaining he moved up to sixth, then with 800m remaining pushed to the front; the noise of the euphoric home crowd was deafening.
A brief stumble at the bell kept the anxiety levels high as his rivals kept pushing hard, but as the finish line loomed, Farah made the race his own, sprinting clear and crossing the line with the 60,000-strong crowd on their feet.
“It was one of the toughest races of my life. The guys really gave it to me. It was all about how do you beat Mo. You had the Kenyans, the Ethiopians, the Ugandans all working as a team against me. Fair play to them, they worked it hard,” said Farah, who crossed the line with a world lead 26:49.51.
“I just had to stay strong, believe in myself and realise that I didn’t work for nothing and I’m not losing in my home town. In the middle of the race, I didn’t think I was going to lose but I did think that it was really tough.
Farah, who also takes on the 5000m heats on Wednesday (9th August), added:
“There is no place like London and no place like home. I love London and I love the people. I get emotional talking about it but I owe it to the people of London and the people of Great Britain.”
There was joy for the home crowds earlier too as all four Brits in the women’s 1500m qualifying heats successfully made it through to Saturday’s semi-finals.
First out on the track was Jess Judd (Mick Judd), and the 22-year-old left nothing to chance, leading the pack from the gun. With 80m to go the field began to charge past but Judd had already done enough to ensure sixth place – with a new personal best of 4:03.73 to boot.
“That was amazing, it was so good,” said Judd. “To get a pb was fantastic – I’ve never heard a cheer like that ever. That is the highlight of my year, my life, it was just fantastic.
“In the last 100m I saw that there was six of us and I thought ‘Oh my goodness I’m actually in the top six, I can ease off.’ I counted five (go past) and I thought, ‘Right that makes me sixth just stay here’ and no one came past which was great.”
British record holder Laura Muir was next out on track and she booked her place in the semi-finals, finishing in fourth place in heat two.
The Scot, who suffered a stress fracture in her foot earlier on in the summer, looked comfortable as she sat on the shoulder of Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay with one lap to go.
Coming off the final bend the field behind her surged on, but Muir kept her cool, running shoulder-to-shoulder with the leading group to the finish line.
“It was brilliant out there on the start line. In terms of major events, being at Glasgow 2014 helped and doing a few rounds at Belgrade (European Indoor Championships) was good so I’m lucky I’ve got a few Championships under my belt now. To have that support out there was great. It feels like a real positive.”
The third and final heat saw both Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) and Sarah McDonald (David Harmer) progress. Weightman finished in fourth place while McDonald had to wait to hear if she had made it through as one of the fastest qualifiers – which she did.
“It was good, it was a little bit faster than I might have expected but I felt good and it was nice to really stretch out the legs and prepare me for tomorrow,” said Weightman, who clocked 4:03.50.
British Indoor champion McDonald meanwhile set a new personal best of 4:05.48 as she finished in ninth place – and she was delighted to find out that her efforts had proved enough.
“I’m so happy, I just wanted to go out here and know that I’ve put everything in to it that I could, and I ran a pb and got through, so I couldn’t really be happier,” said the 24-year-old.
“It was bit overwhelming with the crowd but I just put all that behind me. I knew that I had to put everything in to it to get that fastest loser’s spot.”
In the men’s 100m heats British champion Reece Prescod (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) stormed through to Saturday’s semi-finals with a personal best of 10.03, crossing the line in third place behind Jamaican Julian Forte and Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite.
Prescod said: “My first World Championships I come out with a pb in the first round – I can’t really complain. I’ve just got to bring my best tomorrow really. Being in front of a home crowd it’s great, this is what athletics is all about – I loved it.”
Next up in heat four was CJ Ujah (Stuart McMillan), who was quick out the blocks and leading the field for the first 50m before settling for second place and automatic qualification with a time of 10.07.
“It was comfortable, I had to look across, see where I was. I didn’t necessarily have a good middle but I kind of just carried myself through. I knew I was going to get the job done in qualifying, that’s the main thing. There’s most definitely a lot more to come for the semi-final,” said the 23-year-old, who missed a place in the 2016 Olympic final by just 0.002 seconds.
James Dasaolu (Lloyd Cowan) rounded off a clean sweep of British qualifiers out on the track, securing second place in 10.13 in the sixth and final heat behind Jamaica’s multiple world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) made it through to the final of the women’s pole vault competition after clearing 4.50m – her only attempt of the night. The final takes place on Sunday (6th August).
Lining up in his first ever World Championships, Nick Percy (Vésteinn Hafsteinsson) didn’t manage to progress through to the final of the men’s discus, having thrown a best of 56.93m with his third and final attempt. But it was an experience the 24-year-old knows he will treasure.
“It was absolutely unbelievable to be able to throw when Mo (Farah) was running around and Usain’s Bolt’s doing his 100m, so it’s an experience I’ll never forget,” said the British champion.
“I may have liked to have thrown further but for a first championships to walk away with nearly 57m I’m so incredibly proud and incredibly lucky to be here.
“It’s all a learning curve; I know I wasn’t expecting to come out and throw 65m but I’m still incredibly proud to have finished my season like this. I feel like I performed the best I could on the day. Hopefully next time will be a bit further.”