DOHA, Sept 28, 2019 (AFP) – Controversial US sprinter Christian Coleman stamped his mark on world sprinting on Saturday with a dominant performance to sweep to the global 100 metres title and suggest the heir to retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt has arrived.
The 23-year-old American, who escaped a doping ban earlier this month on a technicality, swept over the finish line in a world-leading personal best of 9.76sec to claim his first major outdoor championship gold medal.
Defending champion Justin Gatlin — who Coleman has described as a mentor — took silver in 9.89sec at the age of 37 while Canada’s Andre De Grasse claimed bronze in 9.90sec.
It completed a flawless championship campaign for Coleman, who had been the only man to duck under 10 seconds in both Friday’s opening rounds and Saturday’s semi-finals.
Coleman has angrily denied any suggestion he is guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Both Gatlin and De Grasse celebrated their performances with family — the former with his mother and the latter paraded round the far from full stadium with his 15-month-old daughter.
Coleman let out a roar of triumph as he crossed the line before punching the air in jubilation after a performance which makes him the sixth fastest man in history.
“It is an incredible time, it is a PR for me. I think the sky’s the limit, I think I still have a lot of things I can work on and improve, I think I can keep dropping my time,” the indoor 60 metres world record holder said.
Coleman may be just starting to accrue titles but Jamaican legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce suggested a fourth 100m women’s world crown is on the cards on Sunday.
The 32-year-old two-time Olympic champion timed an impressive 10.80sec, the fastest women’s 100m heat in world championship history.
There were also first world titles for Ethiopia-born naturalised Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan in the 10,000m and DeAnna Price of the United States, who celebrated a fairytale victory in the women’s hammer.
Price, 26, has only one kidney and suffered several serious injuries down the years.
A passionate advocate for body positivity, she said she hopes to inspire young female athletes “by letting them know that you can be any shape and size and still be strong and beautiful”.
Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle upset the form book to strike men’s long jump gold, producing the leap of his life to defeat favourite Juan Miguel Echevarria.
The 23-year-old Gayle launched himself 8.69m with his fourth attempt while Cuba’s Echevarria only managed 8.34m for bronze. – ‘It’s a catastrophe’ –
IAAF president Sebastian Coe meanwhile will be nervously keeping an eye on Saturday’s two endurance walking finals, the men’s and women’s 50-kilometre races.
The races got under way at 11:30pm local time in what are expected to be sweltering conditions.
The walks took place 24 hours after the first day’s women’s marathon in which Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich took gold after an arduous test of endurance that saw 28 of 68 starters fail to finish.
The International Association of Athletics Federations announced the show would go on, stating no one had suffered heat stroke in the marathon and the completion rate was comparable to women’s races at Tokyo in 1991 and Moscow in 2013.
However, the distressing spectacle of the marathon — some competitors were stretchered off and another put in a wheelchair — made a deep impression on France’s decathlon world champion Kevin Mayer.
“Clearly by organising the championship here, they (the IAAF) didn’t put the athletes first, they’ve mostly put them in jeopardy,” said Mayer, who is also the world record holder.
“Even if people aren’t saying it out loud, it’s obvious it’s a catastrophe.”
The marathon havoc will have done nothing to calm the angst of France’s 50km walk champion Yohann Diniz, who defends his title on Saturday.
Diniz hit out at organisers on Friday for forcing walkers to race in the heat while track and field athletes are competing in a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius in the climate-controlled Khalifa Stadium.
“I am disgusted by the conditions,” the Frenchman said.
“I am extremely upset. If we were in the stadium we would have normal conditions, between 24-25 degrees, but outside they have placed us in a furnace, which is just not possible.”