Mike O’Brien ‘23
Once every two years, the world’s best track and field athletes compete at the IAAF World Championships to bring glory to their country and chase after personal bests in their respective events. This year, the World Championships were held in Doha, Qatar, the first time the country has ever hosted the event since its inception in 1976. The United States, a dominant force in the world of track and field, looked to win the most medals among any nation like they had done since the previous two championships in 2017 and 2015, and that’s exactly what they did. Here are some highlights from Team USA putting more athletes on the podium than anyone else.
Mixed 4×400 Meter Relay Final
Perhaps the most inspiring story from USATF came out of the mixed gender 4×400 meter relay, which saw the quintet of Wilbert London, Allyson Felix, Courtney Okolo, and Michael Cherry not only capture gold, but set a new world record of 3:09.34 in the process. Felix, a former Olympic gold medalist in 2012, defined perseverance for Team USA in this record setting performance. Not only did she help capture gold for her country, but leapt back into action less than a year after becoming a mother. After initially having her professional contract with Nike altered due to her pregnancy which left her unable to compete, Felix persevered through this adversity to capture yet another gold medal. This gold was also monumental for Felix, as she has now surpassed Jamaican legend Usain Bolt for most gold medals all-time at the World Championships with her 12th.
Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase Final
The steeplechase is one of the most grueling events in track and field, a race that requires runners to jump over 30 inch barriers throughout laps and even land in a pit of water after one of these said barriers – tough stuff. Team USA looked to be hopeful to place two athletes on the podium at Worlds, with steeplers Emma Coburn and Colleen Quigley emerging as two of the premiere steeplechase runners in the world. However, after both qualifying for Worlds, Quigley sustained an injury which left Coburn to chase for a medal without a competitor that had been pushing her all season – and that’s what she did. Finishing in a time of 9:02.35, Coburn took home a silver medal for the US, along with capturing a new personal best. She finished second behind Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech, who ran a blazing 8:57.84 to set a new World Championships record.
Men’s 100 Meter Final
Along with Jamaica, the United States has always been one of the premier sprinting countries in the world. At this World Championships, a mix of younger and older talent looked to do damage in the 100m; Christian Coleman, 23, and seasoned veteran Justin Gatlin, 37, were poised to have a big impact on Team USA’s medal count. At the 2017 World Championships, Gatlin and Coleman upset Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final professional race, for an American 1-2 finish, and that is what they did again. With the order this time reversed, Christian Coleman ran a blinding 9.76 world-leading time for the gold, and Gatlin took the silver in 9.89. The run from Coleman not only made him a world champion, but his mark was the sixth fastest 100m run of all time.
Women’s 400 Meter Hurdles
Similar to how duos were a common theme among the women’s steeplechasers and men’s 100 meter competitors, the American duo of Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin looked ready to dominate the field in the 400 meter hurdles. McLaughin, only 20 years old, has already made an appearance at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, and is arguably the greatest high school sprinter in history. Her teammate, Dalilah Muhammad, had already set a world record in the 400 hurdles earlier in the seasion at the USA Outdoor Championships, and looked to set the bar for her and McLaughlin even higher; and how high the bar ended up being raised. Muhammad took the gold in the event, breaking her own world record set just months ago in a time of 52.16. McLaughlin took the silver medal in a time of 52.23, setting a new personal best for herself and running the second fastest time in world history – at just 20 years old!
Men’s 800 Meters
The duos keep stacking up as two American men had been having incredible seasons at the 800m distance: Donovan Brazier and Bryce Hoppel. Brazier, a Texas A&M product, had an incredible come-from-behind race at the Diamond League Championships, catching former Olympic silver medalist Nigel Amos at the line for a time of 1:42.7. That was good enough for a personal best and the third fastest time ever run by an American over 800m. Hoppel, who was still competing in the NCAA for the University of Kansas earlier in the year, had a streak of running 17 races, both collegiate and professional, without a loss. Toeing the line, both of these athletes were expected to deliver something special, and they delivered. Donovan Brazier took home the gold for Team USA, in a stellar 1:42.34, both a World Championship and American record. Hopell, just missing the podium coming in fourth, still secured a personal best, running 1:44.25. The future looks extremely bright for both of these young athletes.