IT ONLY TOOK 39 YEARS, BUT EUGENE BROUGHT GREAT WORLD MEET TO USA FOR FIRST TIME
BY ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - Watching Syndey McLaughlin's Hayward Field brilliance at home back in New Jersey - like (hopefully) millions of other dedicated track fans around the universe - Shore Athletic Club president Walter MacGowan had this one right on the button:
"Amazing race. She is one for the ages."
Absolutely true, Walter. Then again, just part of the story.
Let me tell you that Sydney McLaughlin is destined to deliver years and years more of amazing performances. And, with each one, she will re-define what an athlete can do "for the ages."
The Dunellen, NJ dazzler's 50.68 triumph at the World Championships Saturday was stunning. It smashed her previous world of 51.41 set at the USA Olympic Trials at this same venue by a huge 0.73 seconds, which in turn had bettered her own world mark of 51.46 set at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The rest of the world will have a lot of years to catch up to McLaughlin - because she will certainly better 50 seconds for the one-lap, 10-barrier event sometime in her brilliant future. Anyone in the Hayward crowd of 21,000-plus Friday could see this coming.
Union Catholic High School alumna McLaughlin was not even pressed - runner-up Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who was expected to be a lot closer, was never in it at 52.27. At 22, "Syd" has "ages" of even better things ahead of her. (Bol, also 22, too.) Look for her to run a superb leg here on the USA 4x400 relay team on Sunday. And then - perhaps - go on a victory tour.
“I am super grateful," she said after the 50.68 was confirmed. "It all came together today and another medal for the Team USA. It was absolutely unreal to have my family in the stands. I have never had them together in one place.
"The time is absolutely amazing, and the sport is getting faster and faster. Just figuring out what barriers can be broken. I only get faster from here. I executed the race the way (coach) Bobby (Kersee) wanted me to.
"We knew warming up that it was going to be one of those days."
As ever, there was "glory in it for all." Queens, NYC's Dalilah Muhammad took the bronze medal in 53.13 for her 4th all-time Worlds medal in the event. And USA made it four of the top five when Shamier Little and Britton Wilson trailed home Dalilah Muhammad.
After seven days of standout Hayward action, the World Championships had at last delivered a world record, And McLaughlin was rewarded with more than the gold medal and the applause of the mulitudes - here at Hayward or watching around the planet . She'll bring home the giant-sized $100,000 check signed by World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe. It's the check that had been burning a large hole in his pocket all week - awaiting those two letters - WR - to pop up on the big screen.
Some joshed that "the Jersey girl" should have walked home after the triumph was clinched. That way she'd have left further room to break the record - by mini-er increments in the big races to come. Remember how high jumper Dwight Stones and pole vaulter Sergei Bubka - when at their very best - would have their high-bar attempts raised by a centimeter at a time?
Say this about the 400 hurdles. It hasn't been around as a women's event forever. First races over the one-lap barriers were in the 1970s.
The men's 400 hurdles, some track old-timers suggest, didn't really come of age until Glenn Davis of Ohio State first broke the 50-second barrier at the 1956 USA Olympic Trials at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (Men's hurdles are higher than women's hurdles.)
So they're saying similar things these days about the women's 400 hurdles, too.
It won't really "come of age" until "someone breaks 50."
That, of course, will be Sydney McLaughlin, and look for it to happen a lot sooner than later.
By Elliott Denman
EUGENE, OREGON -
Just as a reminder, we told you so.
Years and years ago.
So did John Moon, the famed Seton Hall University track coach.
Here's the story:
Back in the mid-1990s, Seton Hall coach Moon, himself a former sprints great, interviewed by this then-Asbury Park Press sports writer (yours truly) about the budding romance of his Seton Hall team members Kevin Lyles and Keisha Caine, Moon delivered a track quote for the ages.
"If and when these two get married, their children are likely to be very fast people," said Moon, in the story soon delivered to Asbury Park Press readers.
How right we were!
All these years later, Noah Lyles and Josephus Lyles are a lot more than just "very fast people."
Noah is already a two-time World Championships 200-meter winner. Josephus can be a medalist at these 2022 Worlds, too, if only they find a place for him on one of the Team USA relay units.
Now, fast forward.....very fast forward.
Noah Lyles had celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday by romping to an easy 200-meter first-round win in the 18th World Championships of Track and Field, hamming it up all the way to the finish line.
Three days later, Lyles was all-business, all-maturity. No hamming it this time. No joshing, no early celebrations.
And he thus showed the Hayward Field crowd - and a global TV audience - what he really could do at full-focus, full-throttle, full of the amazing velocity he's apparently been endowed with at birth. Yes, as predicted by his father's coach. As told to the Asbury Park Press.
He'd won at Worlds in Doha, Qatar, clocking 19.83
Noah Lyles' second sonsecutive World Championships win was a lot quicker.
IThis one took just 19.31 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded for the half-lap distance by an American, crossing the line 1/100th of a second faster than Michael Johnson's winning time at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Only two other men have ever run faster - Jamaicans Usain Bolt (19.19) in 2009 and Yohan Blake (19.26) in 2011.
How's this for a stat: Lyles' first 100 meters (out of the blocks) took 10.15 seconds, his second 100 just 9.16...
Bolt's world-record for the distance -under standard racing conditions - is .9.58. !!
;And Lyles' blazing performance launched a 1-2-3 Team USA sweep (replicatng the earlier sweep in the 100.)
Wisconsin's Kenny Bednarek claimed the sliver in 19.77, Florida's Erriyon Knighton the bronze in 19.80.
Bednarek is 23, Knighton just 18, a recent high school graduate and the fastest junior-age (sub-20) dasher in world history, yes faster even than the young Usain Bolt.
Liberia's Joseph Fahnbulleh - also the NCAA champion for the University of Florida, clocked in at 19.84; Dominican Republic's Alexander Ogando (19.84) and Trinidad and Tobago's Jereem Richards (20.08) to lead all the rest of the world.
"Today was my day, I did what I came here to do," Lyles, already draped in the gold medal, told the Hayward crowd in a celebratory post-race interview.
"At first I thought I was slow, then that time (19.31) popped up (on the big display screen) and I said 'wow.'
And "wow" said Hayward attendees, too.
Track and field celebrities have been in the stands, rejoicing in all the golden performance at these Worlds, since the meet began.
Tommy Smith and John Carlos, appropriately, were spotlighted guests for this night of the two 200 finals (men and women.)
It was 54 years ago that their podium stance at Mexico City after the 200 final - protesting injustices in their nation -were met with fierce, antagonistic reactions - and which kept on for years.
How times have changed - now Smith and Carlos are considered proud all-time icons of sports history.- and Olympic Hall of Famers.
Edwin Roberts was in the audience today, too. He's been a Philadelphian for years - and a top official at major meets for decades - but in 1964-68-72 he was a brilliant Olympic sprinter for Trinidad and Tobago. In 1964, he took a bronze in the 200 and another bronze in the 4x100 relay. He added a 200-meter fourth in '68,
So, your thoughts on this one, Edwin?
"Excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent."
For sure, for sure, for sure, for sure.
FATHER, MOM SHARE JOY OF SON JAKE WIGHTMAN'S STUNNING WORLD-CHAMPIONSHIP 1500-METER RUN
BY ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - If ever a stadium announcer had a legitimate cause for jumping out of his seat, and going absolutely blooming bonkers, it was Geoff Wightman on Tuesday evening at Hayward Field.
"MY SON IS THE WORLD CHAMPION!" he told the Hayward crowd, who took in the stunningly superb upset win of his son, Jake, in the final of the classic men's 1500-meter race at the18th World Championships of Track and Field, with as much astounding amazement as he did.
Call it an upset of all upsets. Call it a whole lot more. The man making the call from his perch at Hayward couldn't believe what he was seeing. And neither could most of the Hayward audience.
Virtually all the sport's experts had pre-consigned the gold medal to a Jakob - i.e., Ingebrigtsen of Norway, the reigning Olympic champion, the two-time European champion, the number one man on the World Athletics computer ranking system, the eighth fastest man in his sport's history - and all this at age 21.
Instead, it went to a Jake.
A computer didn't rule. Jake did.
In a super-fast race that rocketed this Jake (who crossed the line in 3:29:23) to the top of the yearly charts, past Jakob (who clocked a 3:29.47), bronze medalist Mohamed Katir of Spain (3:29.90), and nine others, few could believe their eyes.
Coming into this one, Wightman wasn't even the fastest of the Great Britons. That was Josh Kerr, who wound up fifth at 3:30.60. Heavens, some didn't even think he was Britain's best Jake - after all, Jake Heyward had clocked a 3:33.54 back in early June.
If Ingebrigtsen didn't rate as universal pre-race favorite, well, that honor belonged to either Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya (whose 3:28.28 2021 credentials ranked him seventh all-time), or Kenya countryman Abel Kipsang, who'd run 3:29.56 last year.
But every formchart went flying off to oblivion on this perfect Oregon evening (80 degree fahrenheit, 42 percent humidity) as these dozen great racers took on the challenge once known as "the metric mile."
Norway's Jakob took over the pace from Kenya's Kipsang just past the 700-meter mark and held onto it through the 1200 mark. And then Jake came storming through. His 14th 100-meter dash took 13.47. And his 15th might even have been even quicker - if he hadn't raised his arms in absolute incredulity those final strides as he realized he was about to live up to his father's to-be-remembered-forever call "MY SON IS THE WORLD CHAMPION!"
Spain went 3-4 with Katir getting the bronze medal and Mario García placing 4th. Back of Jake and Jakob, the field registered best marks-for-place at the World Championships in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th places,
In the Hayward stands, as Jake crossed the line and Dad Geoff reminded the crowd who that stunning winner was, Mrs. Susan Wightman, the champion's mom, did her own cheerleading.
All the Wightmans are from Horsham, she told you. And if you don't know where Horsham is, we'll let Wikipedia tell you that:
Horsham is a market town on the upper reaches of the River Arun on the fringe of the Weald in West Sussex, England. The town is 31 miles (50 km) south southwest of London, 18.5 miles northwest of Brighton and 26 miles northeast of Chichester. Nearby towns include Crawley to the northeast and Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill to the southeast."
Count on an updated Wikipedia version to tell you "Horsham is also the hometown of 2022 World 1500-meter champion Jake Wightman."
Father Geoff - himself an excellent marathoner - has also been his son's coach. And, a few minutes after the upset triumph of her son was finally sinking in, Mrs. Wightman was asked about her emotions at that point.
"We are all absolutely overjoyed," she told you, in an absolute understatement.
Not since Steve Cram won the 1500 at the first World Championships in Helsinki in 1983, has a Briton struck gold in the event at these now biennially-staged Worlds. Now, Jake Wightman joins a small club - Sydney Wooderson, Roger Bannister, Chris Chataway, Derek Ibbotson,Brian Hewson, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Seb Coe are the most illustrious - of Great Britons who'e ruled the waves of the 1500-meter world.
Coe, the man who brought the highly successful 2012 Olympic Games to London, now - in fact -runs this whole World Athletics show, being staged in this nation for the very first time.
"Jake is flying right home after this," said Mrs. Wightman. "Next for him is the Commonwealth Games (at Birmingham.)"
"He's got to be ready for that one, too."
But he must prepare for an onslaught of media adulation, as well, before the first starting gun is fired at Birmingham. The medals were duly distributed and the playing of "God Save the Queen" called the crowd to rise.
After five days, Team GB had its first gold medal of the Worlds.
Mrs. Wightman gave her Union Jack another big flutter before hearing an American journalist seated a row back of her ask for a moment of her attention.
"My wife is English and I hope she's watching this back home (on TV) in New Jersey," he said.
"And my dad was a Jacob, too. Some people called him the best lefthanded dentist in the North Bronx."
"He must have been a very good man," said Mrs. Wightman.
"Yes, he was," said the journalist, getting a little misty over all this, too.
"Yes he was."
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - Chalk it up to track and field's dazzling diversity.
There's something in the world's oldest sport for everybody, now so more than ever before. And that's its greatest strength.
Sure Team USA is off to a mighty good start at the 18th World Championships of Track and Field, But Team Rest of the World did a whole lot of first-class catching-up Monday at Hayward Field and environs.
Six finals were on the slate, four for women, two for men,
How's this for sharing the wealth? The gold medals went to six different nations.
The allocation began with the morning's women's marathon run through Eugene and Springfield - won by Ethiopia's Gotyom Gebreslase in an all-time Worlds best clocking of 2: 18:11.
When the action moved back to Hayward Field, Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas took the women's triple jump (15.47 meters), Kenya's Faith Kipyegon the 1500 meters (3:52.96) and Belgium's Nafissatou Thiam the heptathlon (with 6,947 points.). On the men's side, global golds went to 3000-meter steeplechaser Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco (8:25.13) and high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatarr (2.37 meters.)
Consistency sure pays in this sport - this was the fourth Worlds title for Kipyegon, the third for Rojas, Thiam and Barshim.
The silvers were claimed six ways, too - by Kenya's marathoner, Judith Korir; Jamaica's triple jumper, Shanika Ricketts; Ethiopia's 1500 runner, Gudal Tsegay; the Netherlands' heptathlete Anouk Vetter; Ethiopia's steepler Lamecha Girma, and Korea's high jumper Sanhyeok Woo.
Only in the bronze department did Team USA provide a breakthrough, Americans claimed two of those third places with Tori Franklin in the triple jump and Anna Hall in the heptathlon. But the other bronze winners represented four nations: Israeli marathoner Leoah Salpeter, British 1500 runner Laura Muir, Kenya steeple Consensius Kipruto and Ukraine high jumper Andriy Protsenko.
Today's world is definitely not tranquil. Surely not so in Ukraine. Surely filled with unrest in Ethiopia and Venezuela.
Thanks then, track and field, for providing brief "breaks in the action" on tihis multi-faceted Monday while more serious goings-on dot every front page and every edition of the late-night news.
TEAMMATE JOSH AWOTUNDE SETS TWO ALL-TIME BESTS AND POWERS TEAM USA TO HISTORIC SHOT PUT SWEEP AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS !!! By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - Winning a medal at the World Championships of Track and Field is a heck of an achievement.
Setting two all-time personal best performances along the way to that medal is even more of an achievement.
Completing a 1-2-3 Team USA sweep in the event - first time that's ever happened over the 18-meet history of the World Championships,
the classic meet dating back to 1983 that is at least on par with the Olympic Games to the sport's purists - clinches the performance's total
That, folks, is the Josh Awotunde story.
The Shore Athletic Club member, out of Delsea (NJ) High School and the University of South Carolina, did himself, his family, his Shore AC clubmates - and most
importantly, his nation, immensely proud with his mighty lifetime best shot put efforts of (first) 73 feet and a quarter inch, and (then) 73 feet, 1 3/4 inches, in dramatic Day Three action of the World Championships at Hayward Field.
Together with Oregonian Rayn Crouser's come-from-behind victory in the event with his fifth-round toss of 75 feet, 3 1/4 inches, and Pennsylvanian Joe Kovacs' mighty heave of 75-1 1/4 for the silver, the New Jerseyan's performance gave Team USA its first-ever 1-2-3 shot put medals sweep at the Worlds.
Not since Kansas's Bill Nieder, California's Parry O'Brien and Arizona's Dallas Long went 1-2-3 at the 1960 Rome Olympics had a Team USA shot put trio swept all the medals at a major outdoor global competition. And it was only the sixth time - any event, men or women - that a single nation had claimed all the medals at the
Outdoor Worlds. Carl Lewis-led trios which took them all in both the 100-meter dash and long jump back in 1983 and the Fred Kerley-Marvin Bracy-Trayvon Bromell unit who went 1-2-3 here Saturday in the 100 were the only previous American threesomes to be this monopolistic.
To Crouser, who had to battle back after Kovacs swept into the lead, it was a form of patience rewarded. He held the world record, he owns two Olympic golds, but he'd never won the Outdoor Worlds. Kovacs beat him by a single centimeter back in 2019 at the Doha Worlds.
"To win it this way, in front of family and friends, at a place (Hayward Field) I can almost call home, is just amazing," said the 29-year-old Crouser.
"This was the perfect place to come through with the win."
"I knew it could still turn around (after he'd taken the lead in the fourth round," said Kovacs, 33. "Ryan's that kind of competitor. He's always got
a way to respond."
The Crouser-Kovacs feats were not unexpected. But Awotunde's surely was. The 27-year-old came in just ninth place on the 2022 world list. But he still beat a bunch of those ahead of him on that list -New Zealand's Thomas Walsh wound up fourth, Brazil's Darian Romani fifth and Croatia's Filip MIhaljevic sixth.
"I'm very grateful to Shore AC," he said. "You guys have been so great to me. I really appreciate it."
His University of South Carolina coaches were all here to cheer his performance. And a handful of Shore AC members and friends were scattered among the
Hayward Field crowd, too.
Just moments after Crouser, Kovacs and Awotunde completed their shot put sweep, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce,Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica took the top positions in the women's 100-meter sprint final.
And that, understandably, prompted a delegation of Jamaica fans to start a "one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three" chant.
And that, in turn, prompted a smiling American in the stands to tell them,"hey, guys, I didn't think you were shot put fans."