In Norway, the newspaper headline translated to “Hunting Two Gold Tonight.” Neither Karsten Warholm nor Jakob Ingebrigtsen delivered.
Brazilian Alison dos Santos dethroned Warholm in the 400m hurdles at the world track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Tuesday night. Warholm, who in Tokyo shattered his world record to bring it down to 45.94 seconds, led at 250 meters but faded to seventh place at his first meet since suffering a hamstring tear June 5.
Brit Jake Wightman recorded the biggest shock at the halfway point of the 10-day worlds, beating the Olympic 1500m gold medalist Ingebrigtsen. He did so while his dad, Geoff, provided race commentary on the stadium public address system.
Dos Santos, who took bronze in Tokyo to become the third-fastest man in history, prevailed in 46.29 seconds, the third-fastest time in history.
It wasn’t much of an upset, given dos Santos came into worlds as the fastest man this year. But Warholm had not lost a 400m hurdles that he finished since his last race of 2018.
“Maybe being out for six weeks probably cost me a little bit,” Warholm said on the BBC. “I tried with everything I had. … Once that lactic hits you, there’s no going back.”
American Rai Benjamin took silver, a much happier silver than last year, when he ran faster than the previous world record at the Olympics.
“[Today] was probably the hardest race I ever ran,” said Benjamin, who due to COVID-19 and hamstring tendonitis did not clear a hurdle from May 14 until just before the USATF Outdoor Championships first round June 24. “I [thought I] might tear this tendon off the bone, so I just left it alone and kind of cruised in for second.”
Another American, Trevor Bassitt, the NCAA Division II champion from Ashland University, earned bronze. Tuesday would have been the 63rd birthday of his former coach, four-time Olympic hammer thrower Jud Logan, who died in January from COVID-related pneumonia.
On Monday, Bassitt tweeted a screenshot of a text conversation he had with Logan last Aug. 2, the day of the Olympic 400m hurdles final. Logan predicted that Bassitt would make the world championships final in Eugene.
“I could feel that something special was going to happen today,” said Bassitt, who was eighth at Olympic Trials, then this year lowered his personal best three times, from 48.80 to 47.39 on Tuesday. “I just know he was with me for that whole race.”
Earlier in the 1500m, Wightman overtook Ingebrigtsen at 1,300 meters and relegated the Norwegian to silver.
“When you’re in an event like that, and there’s a figure and an athlete who’s so dominant and such a heavy favorite that I never, ever expected to be world champion,” said Wightman, who was fifth at the last worlds in 2019 and 10th in Tokyo. “I believed that there was a chance, but my main thing is I wanted to come in here and make amends from a shocking run in Tokyo and come away with a run I was proud of and that was hopefully going to be a medal.”
Up in the Hayward Field stands, Geoff described his son’s gutsy move to the front and ability to hold off Ingebrigtsen for the thousands in attendance.
“That’s my son,” Geoff said on the PA, according to journalist Cathal Dennehy on site, “and he’s the world champion.”
Ingebrigtsen followed his Olympic title by last month running the world’s fastest mile since 2001 and has had designs on going for a 1500m-5000m double at the 2024 Olympics, should organizers separate the events on the schedule.
“I’m embarrassed being this good, but also this bad,” he said. “I know that I’m better than silver.”
Worlds continue Wednesday featuring finals in the women’s 3000m steeplechase and women’s discus.
Australian Eleanor Patterson won the women’s high jump over Ukainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh. Both cleared 2.02 meters, and Patterson won on count back. Russian Mariya Lasitskene won the last world title in 2019 and the Olympic title in 2021 by clearing 2.04. Lasitskene was barred from worlds due to the ban on Russians for the war in Ukraine. On Her Turf has more on the women’s high jump.
Slovenian Kristjan Ceh won the men’s discus with a championship record 71.13-meter throw. Lithuanian Mykolas Alekna, a rising Cal sophomore, became the first teenage man to win a throwing medal in world championships history, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org. The reigning Olympic and world champion Daniel Stahl of Sweden was fourth.
In non-finals Tuesday, Fred Kerley was eliminated in the 200m semifinals with a sixth-place finish, three days after leading a U.S. sweep of the 100m. Kerley said he suffered a left leg cramp and that he would be OK moving forward with the 4x100m relay final coming Saturday.
The other three Americans were the top qualifiers into Thursday’s final — 2019 World champion Noah Lyles (19.62), 18-year-old phenom Erriyon Knighton (19.77) and Olympic silver medalist Kenny Bednarek (19.84).
The Jamaicans who swept the women’s 100m — Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah — made Thursday’s 200m final, led by Jackson’s 21.67.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, heat winners included Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin (53.95) and Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Dalilah Muhammad (54.45). Semifinals are Wednesday.
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Jake Wightman has become the World 1500m champion. Geoff calling his son becoming a World Champion is priceless. Helene, part of our team, filmed Dad. I sat with Mum Susan..then could not wait to give my mate a hug. Beyond proud. ❤️@JakeSWightman @WightmanGeoff @SusanWightman6 pic.twitter.com/8I8IT6ntwb
— Katharine Merry (@KatharineMerry) July 20, 2022