Track & Field

Winners, Losers, PED Abusers: Beijing Look Back Part 2

The Losers

Team USA

18 medals in total, 6 of each colour, is deemed a poor championships for team USA. While 6 golds was also the final mark at the previous world championships, it is the lowest total tally since 2003 in Paris. So where did it all go wrong? Lets start with the women’s 4x400m relay team. You could’ve put your house on them taking the title (and many of us did), but with an out of form Sanya Richards-Ross on the lead-off leg, even a 47.7 split from Allyson Felix couldn’t wrestle gold off the Jamaicans. The men’s horizontal jumps may have produced USA gold in Christian Taylor, but his teammates left their form back on the plane. Marquis Dendy entered the Long and Triple jump ranked 4th & 5th in the world for the events respectively; he didn’t make the final of either. Jeff Henderson is world number one in the long jump for 2015 but didn’t progress into the last three rounds of the final, finishing in 9th place. You can always count on the USA in the hurdles. They had the five fastest 100m hurdlers in the world this year, the defending world champion, world record holder and two others in the 110m event, and the top 2 for 2015 going in the men’s 400m hurdles. Just one medal was the outcome, from the man battling illness profiled above. The men’s 4x100m relay? Well they were DQ’d of course.

At least the USA women's 4x4 team had the best intro pose

At least the USA women’s 4×4 team had the best intro pose

Mutaz Essa Barshim

The men’s high jump in 2014 was nothing short of mouth-watering. Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko peppered the world record with attempts at almost every major meet, their entering heights bettering the bests of many of their competitors. 5 men cleared 2.40m or higher and we just waited for the world record (2.45m) to fall. But it proved that you must strike while the iron is hot as the 2015 season has been a much more indifferent affair. Barshim is the only man to have cleared higher than 2.38m this season (2.41m) and his 2014 consistency has been absent. Bondarenko has reached 2.37m but this sees him firmly among the pack. Barshim finished fourth in Beijing, losing out on countback, as Bondarenko was unable to defend his title, claiming a shared silver with Zhang Guowei. Canadian Derek Drouin, a 2.40m man in 2014, proved a steady hand to take the title as the competition ended in a jump-off. Barshim must wait another season to try and claim his first major title outdoors. He did retain his diamond race trophy in Zurich last night, but i would imagine that is little consolation.

Justin Gatlin

Whatever about the good vs evil nonsense, and talk of Bolt ‘saving our sport’, Justin Gatlin did fail in what he set out to do – win three world championship gold medals. Instead he came away with two individual silvers and a DQ in the relay. It’s hard to comprehend two world silvers being a failure, but when you’re the most dominant sprinter in the world for two seasons, in terms of time and performances, there’s no other way to frame it. Once the 100m final finished the relief from the ‘haters’ was evident; much less spectator panic before the 200m and his ‘failure’ to pick up a relay medal barely even registered. Still, he’ll be back in 2016, as one of the fastest 34 year old the world has ever seen, hoping to topple Usain Bolt from the Olympic podium.

Infeld pips Huddle for bronze

Infeld pips Huddle for bronze

Molly Huddle

At least she didn’t damage her team’s medal count, just her own. Coming towards the line in third place, with the mind possibly more fatigued than the legs, Molly Huddle threw her hands in the air to celebrate the bronze medal (only the second ever for a USA woman in the event). What she failed to anticipate was, however, her fast finishing team mate Emily Infeld who came through like a train dipped her on the line (see photo). Infeld was almost apologetic to the more experienced Huddle saying afterwards that she felt “a little guilty”.

Part 1 here. Part 3 to follow.

Thomas Barr competing at the World Championships in Beijing. Image via Athletics Ireland
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Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell is an athlete, a coach, and a business management graduate. A former youth international, he represented Ireland in sprint hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump and relays. He is current senior 60m & former 110m hurdles champion and ranks 3rd & 5th on the Irish all-time list for the events. Years of battling and finally overcoming injuries have led to his keen interest in strength and conditioning for athletes, as well as his current course of study: Neuromuscular Physical Therapy. He is occasionally referred to as GOD, not due to his initials, but because of his heavenly beard, which he has sported since the age of 5.

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