The closing weekend of the IAAF World Championships in London provided lots of action and plenty of surprise performances, including what could be considered one of the best American middle distance races in history. In case you missed anything, here are the races that you should go back and watch.
Coburn and Frerichs go 1-2 in steeplechase
In perhaps the most surprising and exciting race of the entire meet, Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs pulled off a stunning upset in the steeplechase. The two Americans jockeyed for position during the entire race. Finally, on the last lap, Frerichs swung wide, gaining a brief lead until Coburn executed a flawless water jump. Coburn’s strong kick and perfect last barrier jump allowed her to cruise to victory, in 9:02.58. On her way to becoming world champion, she set a new American record and a meet record.
Coburn said she ran what she felt was the perfect race. “The whole race I just felt strong and controlled and powerful and I kept waiting and waiting for it to feel bad and it never did,” Coburn said to Letsrun.com
Frerichs held off Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi of Kenya to take silver in 9:03.77. This crushed her previous personal best of 9:19.
“I’m just kind of in shock at the moment,” Frerich told Letsrun.com. “Going into the last lap when there are five Jerry had said, if you can stick on Emma you might smell something special. And I looked up and thought ‘This is what he’s talking about. I have to go for this.’”
If there is one race you should watch from the entire meet, it’s this one. See the replay below.
Then watch Coburn’s sister react to her win, which will make you cry again.
When your sister becomes a world champion…
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 11, 2017
U.S. Women dominate both the relays
The U.S. women’s relay teams grabbed gold in both the 4×100 and the 4×400 relays. On Saturday, the 4×100-meter team held the lead for much of the race. Anchor Tori Bowie, the 100-meter champion, secured the win with a swift meters 100 meters, winning her second gold medal of the meet. Then on Sunday, the 4×400 team won by over 6 seconds, helped in large part by Phyllis Francis and Allyson Felix. The two women had already won gold and bronze medals respectively in the open 400. Felix, who was part of both relay teams, earned her 15th and 16th world championship medals, 11 of which are gold.
Men fall short in both relays while Bolt is unable to finish
Meanwhile the U.S. men’s teams had to settle for silver in both of their relays after huge upsets. The 4×100 team lost to Great Britain, while the 4×400 team gave their victory up to Trinidad and Tobago. Both relays were lost in the final 100 meters, as the anchors were out-kicked. Christian Coleman, the final runner in the 100-meter relay and Fred Kerley, who ran the 400, both had finished off long collegiate seasons before training for US and world champs. Their fatigue was a factor in both races. In the 4×100, Usain Bolt pulled up with what is suspected to be a hamstring injury. He was not able to complete his last race ever on the track.
“I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done,” Bolt said in a post-race press conference.
Surprise winners in the men’s and women’s 5000 meters
Most expected Britian’s Mo Farah to win the 5,000, capping off an illustrious track career and giving him his second gold medal of the meet. However, it was not meant to be. The race eventually came down to a group of four runners in the bell lap: Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris and Yomif Kejelcha, Farah, and American Paul Chelimo. Edris’s kick proved to be too much, as he won in 13:32.79. Farah finished right behind him in 13:33.22. Chelimo outraced Kejelcha on the backstretch to take the bronze, giving the Americans yet another medal.
In the women’s race, everyone expected Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia to win again, following her absolutely dominate performance in the 10K. However, Kenya’s Hellen Obiri’s 61-second last lap ensured her a victory. She finished in 14:34, six seconds ahead of Ayana.
Wilson grabs bronze in 800
It was no surprise that South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba went 1 and 2 in Sunday’s 800-meter final. The pre-race favorite, Semenya easily won in 1:55.16, with Niyonsaba right behind in 1:55.92. However, American Ajee Wilson proved her American record in Monaco from last month was no fluke. She was able to keep up with the world leaders and snag the bronze medal.
“I’m happy. I’m grateful that I was able to get a medal,” Wilson said post-race. “Also wish I could have gotten gold of course, but that’s just what I had today so I’m super excited with my performance. I couldn’t be happier.”
In total, the American team led the medal count, with 30 total: ten gold, 11 silver, and nine bronze. This was the most medals an American team has ever won at world championships.