This is the world championships at which anything goes.The competition has become more unpredictable by the day. Last night a wrong turn at the water jump almost certainly cost one of the Kenyan favourites Beatrice Chepkoech a medal in the 3000m steeplechase.
The medal race was just two laps in when 26-year-old Chepkoech inexplicably missed the turn off to the water jump, continuing around the 400m track until she was outside the jump and realised she had missed the course.She doubled back but had lost some 20 metres to the leading group.
She caught back up but the energy she burned to return to the pack probably cost her in the end and she missed the medals by one place, finishing fourth.
In a most unpredictable race, the American duo of Emma Coburn (9:02.58) and Courtney Frerichs (9:03.77) combined to break the African stranglehold on the event finishing first and second, both in personal best times, ahead of the defending world champion Hyvin Jepkemoi ((9:04.03). The Olympic champion Ruth Jebet finished fifth in 9:13.96.
Chepkoech’s mishap was not the only incident in the race. Just three barriers later one of the Ethiopian runners clipped a barrier and brought down German runner Gesa Krause and those behind them had to take evasive action, including Australian record-holder Genevieve LaCaze.
“I saw it happening in front of me but my reaction was terrible and I tried to dodge her. I think her head went into my thigh, the poor thing, but she regathered and came ninth. It was just messy.’’
“It happens more and more in championship races because everyone is on edge. You’ve got to be ready for anything.”
LaCaze had qualified strongly for the final after an injury-disrupted preparation but she found she had nothing left backing up for the medal race 24 hours later and finished 12th.
“I thought I would get better as (the races) came, but I was feeling it in my legs,’’ she said.
“If I can’t have the gold medal it’s lovely to see girls I raced in college get it because I do believe I can be that good. I have raced these girls for so many years and I’ve watched them progress.
“The girl who came second, Courtney, I beat her in the Olympic final last year and she’s just put layer on layer and layer and become a better athlete and that’s what you do if you stay uninterrupted and focus on your technique and your fitness and all the little things.
“She’s just proved what you can do and it’s so inspiring and I do hope that over the next 12 to 24 months I can do that, and I believe I can.’’
In the women’s 200m final, the flying Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers became one of the few reigning world champions to defend her title, by lunging at the finish line (22.05sec) ahead of Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou (22.08sec).
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo came with a late surge to take the bronze (22.15sec) but was too far back coming off the bend to challenge for the gold medal.
In the field, Olympic finalist Brooke Stratton defied a series of injuries since the Rio Games to record Australia’s best ever result in the women’s long jump in London.
She finished sixth, one place better than Nicole Boegman’s seventh in 1993 and Bronwyn Thompson in 2003.
Stratton confirmed a place in the top eight with a leap of 6.67m in the third round which earned her three more attempts.
She registered another 6.67m leap in the fifth round and jumped 6.64m with her final attempt in a consistent series.
“I didn’t even know I was going to be here a few weeks ago so to place sixth, I can’t believe it,’’ she said.
“I had a foot injury which dragged on for months and months, got back into training and my groins flared up, I had bone stress in my pubic bones so that set me back another couple of weeks and I just couldn’t get a decent block of training in until I got over here
“I knew I wasn’t in fantastic shape given my preparation but to place sixth I can’t believe it.’ It was definitely worth coming over here, we took a bit of a risk but it definitely paid off.’’
Stratton, 24, finished seventh in her Olympic debut last year and said that had given her confidence that she could compete with the best women in the world.
“Just having confidence knowing I can be up there if I get a jump out there,’’ she said.
“Tonight 6.67 wasn’t enough to get me right up there, but I am so confident for the future. Next year’s Comm Games is going to be incredible, being in Australia and I’m sure the home crowd will boost me to bigger jumps.’’
The national record-holder with a best of 7.05m last year, Stratton said she believed she had jumped as well as she could have in London given her patchy preparation.
“I would have loved to have jumped further, I don’t think I had any further in me, I gave it my best tonight,’’ she said.
I’m sure bigger jumps will come, I just need a consistent block of training under my belt, and I should be back to jumping over 7 metres pretty soon
Those girls are able to produce those distances time after time. Hopefully in the future when I can get some consistent training in and just get bigger and stronger and more powerful I will be able to consistently jump high sixes and low seven when it counts.’’
The extraordinary American Brittney Reese claimed her fourth world title in five attempts, leaping 7.02m to clinch her second gold medal in this stadium after her 2012 Olympic triumph.
She won by just 2cm from American-based Russian Darya Klishina, competing as an Authorised Neutral Athlete because she has been subject to proper doping controls.
Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta, who beat Reese for the gold medal in Rio, was a close third with 6.97m.
Australian surprise packet Jordan Williamsz only just missed reaching the 1500m final after another gutsy run in his semi-final.
Williamsz, who only qualified for the world titles through the IAAF rolldown process and so was one of the slowest men in the field on paper, fought hard to finish eighth in the faster semi-final, clocking 3min38.93sec. The top seven men qualified for the final.
In the slower first semi-final, bright young prospect Luke Mathews, 22, was also run out, finishing seventh in 3:40.91.
Kenyan Elijah Manangoi won the semi-final (3:40.10) from reigning world champion (3:40.15) while the second qualifier threw up yet another wildcard result, won by Czech runner Jakub Holusa in 3:38.05.