It was the two Scots of Josh Kerr (Edinburgh AC) and Neil Gourley (Griffnock North, Ben Thomas) who were in contention to take Jake Wightman’s (Edinburgh AC, Geoff Wightman) crown in the men’s 1500m final on day 5 in Budapest. With the likes of Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the young Narve Nordås, and Kenya’s Abel Kipsang, it was a sensationally tactical race by Josh Kerr. Sitting patiently before waiting on Ingebrigtsen’s shoulder at the bell. With 250m to go, Josh took a leaf out of Jake Wightman’s book and started his charge, followed by the Norwegian who could not match the pace set by the Scotsman who crossed the line in a time of 3:29.38 to become the new World Champion.
“It has been a long time coming. It is quite an overwhelming experience, but I am so proud of myself. I am so proud of my team and my family - they got me here. I didn’t feel like I ran the best race either so I just threw my whole 16 years of this sport at that last 200m and didn’t give up until the end.”
After demonstrating some fantastic form in the semi-finals with his new European Record, Matt Hudson-Smith (Birchfield Harriers, Lance Brauman) brought his A-game to the final. With Olympic champions Kirani James, Wayde Van Niekerk, and World Youth Champion Antonio Watson claiming the other lanes, he was in excellent company. Committing to the race, Matt got out of the blocks very well, using his speed to dominate the first three-quarters of the race. Heading into the final straight it was all about holding on. Up until the final twenty metres he was in first place until the young Jamaican had a late surge just pipping Hudson-Smith on the line into the silver medal (44.31). Setting his sights on Paris, Matt said:
“I have been saying all year that I only need to be perfect for three days – I was alright today. I got a bronze last year, I got a silver this year so next time gold.”
Molly Caudery (Thames Valley Harriers, Scott Simpson) established herself as one of the world’s best in the women’s pole vault. At only 23 years-old the Thames Valley Harrier remained cool and calm, soaring over 4.65m on the first attempt, showing fantastic promise for the rest of the competition.
Next up was 4.75m for Molly who only went over 4.71 for the first time this season when she broke her own best and took the British title in Manchester. With failures at the first two attempts, Caudery had nothing to lose and powered down the runway for her final attempt. Not only just clearing the bar to keep her in the competition but to also set a big personal best under the enormous pressure of a world final. Adding 4cm to her lifetime best, Caudery also beat the Olympic and world silver medallist, Sandi Morris, who bowed out at this height.
A first-time failure at the next height of 4.80m, Caudery skipped to 4.85m, a big increase but with nothing to lose a clearance would land her into the medals. After two run-throughs, breaking into the 4.80s was not meant to be on the night, but what an incredible display from the young Cornish athlete. After the competition, Molly reflected:
“A PB, Olympic qualifier, fifth in the world - my emotions are all over the place. It is just not settling in - what a night. I don’t have words for it. It was a bit of a pressure jump [at 4.75m]. I used a slightly bigger pole, one that I haven’t used in a long time. I got the crowd behind me and I think that made the difference. I sped through the box and the jump after that - I came down on the mat and the bar was still there. I came in really wanting to make the final. If I made the final, anything else was a bonus - top eight would be great - but top five is amazing.”
In her very first World Championships, Anna Purchase (Notts, Mohamed Ali Saatara) was representing in the women’s hammer final. Based out in the States with training partner and now World Champion Canadian Camryn Rogers, Purchase showed her composure after a no-throw in the first round to then throw over 70m in the third round (70.29), finishing up in 11th place.
The past two days have been all about gaining those key qualification spots. In the 800m, it was just the top two who would secure the auto qualification and the two fastest losers. First up Ben Pattison (Basingstoke and Midhants, Dave Ragan) had a very quick race, finishing strong but in third place (1:44.23). It was an agonising wait as the other two Brits, Max Burgin (Halifax) and Daniel Rowden (Woodford Green, Jon Bigg) made their attempts. Ben’s time saw him qualify 7th fastest for the final – the first British male to do so since 2017! It was unfortunately not meant to be for Rowden and Burgin who finished in 7th and 8th place respectively.
In the 200m England’s Dina Asher-Smith (Blackheath and Bromley, John Blackie) and Daryl Neita (Cambridge Harriers, Marco Airale) both gained auto qualification going into the final in 5th and 7th place respectively. Although not claiming a final spot, Bianca Williams (Thames Valley, Linford Christie) posted a new lifetime best of 22.45 beating the previous mark from the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Maintaining his fantastic form, Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet, Glen Mills) looked comfortable finishing second in his semi in a time of 20.02.
After a long five-day wait, Keely Hodgkinson (Leigh Harriers, Trevor Painter) started her World Championships campaign by cruising easily through her 800m, taking the win in a time of 1:59.53 – her first championship sub-2-minute race which could be a very exciting indicator of what is to come later this week!
As we saw earlier this week, there is such strength in the women’s sprint hurdling, and Britain’s Cindy Sember was up against it in her semi-final starting in the lane next to previous world record holder, Kendra Harrison. The Brit unfortunately couldn’t match the pace of the American and finished in 6th place (12.97) outside of the qualification spots.
Photos by Mark Shearman