Track & Field World Championships: Winners and Losers from Day 8

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Track & Field World Championships: Winners and Losers from Day 8
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Domination was the word of the day in Daegu.

On the eighth day of the Track & Field World Championships, two individuals (Sally Pearson, Usain Bolt) and one team (USA women's 4x400 relay) took to the track to solidify their status as the best at their craft and all three races resulted in dominant victories.

Meanwhile, in the women's high jump and men's javelin, the two individuals who have been dominant at their craft over the last few years ran into more competition than expected and had to battle for whatever medals they could get.

Here are the notables from Day 8:

WINNERS

Sally Pearson (Australia)—It's commonplace to see a superstar rack up easy blowouts in the preliminary heats at a major track meet, then face a tougher challenge in the final round against the rest of the best in the world. Not so much for Pearson at this year's World Championships.

The No. 1-ranked women's 100-meter hurdler in the world, Pearson dominated her opening heat, dominated her semifinal heat and then dominated the final, winning her first WC gold medal in 12.26 seconds. That's a World Championship record.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Usain Bolt (Jamaica)—What was that about across-the-board dominance? Other than sitting back in the blocks a little bit in his qualifying heat, Bolt showed no signs of shaken confidence from his 100-meter finals DQ, blowing away the field in all three of his 200-meter races in Daegu.

In the final, Bolt ate up the stagger on Walter Dix (USA) within a few steps after the gun, and by the time he'd hit the straightaway, it was only a matter of challenging his own world record. Bolt won in 19.40 seconds, his third-fastest time ever behind the two instances where he set world records.

 

Sergey Bakulin (Russia)—Not one event in track, from the hurdles to the shot put to the high jump, puts as much of a premium on form and technique as race walking. For the most part, nobody cares how you clear the hurdles so long as you don't obstruct any other runners; nobody cares how you get that 16-pound rock where it has to go so long as you don't step outside the circle; and nobody cares how you get over the high jump bar so long as you don't knock it down.

In race walking, you can be disqualified if you're not maintaining the form that has been established as the correct way to walk: One foot on the ground at all times, weight-bearing leg always straight. Anything else could be seen as running or skipping.

In the WC men's 50-kilometer race walk, 12 of the 45 walkers got DQ'd for breaking form. Another six didn't finish the race. Bakulin won the battle of attrition and attention to detail in 3:41:24, prevailing over a field in which three of the four walkers behind him set their personal-best time.

 

Asbel Kiprop (Kenya)—Although he owns an Olympic gold medal, 22-year-old Kiprop hadn't really won at a big-time meet. In Beijing in 2008, he came across the line second in the 1500-meter final and was only awarded the gold when race winner Rashid Ramzi (Bahrain) failed a drug test.

Kiprop crossed the line first in Daegu in 3:35.69, out-kicking Kenyan teammate Silas Kiplagat down the stretch and earning a gold medal that will feel a lot sweeter than the one from the Olympics.

 

Sanya Richards-Ross, Allyson Felix, Jessica Beard & Francena McCorory (USA)—I'm not sure if it was a symbolic gesture to represent the beginning of a transition from the Felix/Richards-Ross era in U.S. 400-meter running. Maybe it was just the best strategic decision to have the two best runners establish an early lead. Either way, it resulted in gold medals for a Team USA juggernaut.

Ian Walton/Getty Images

The two big-name superstars of the women's 4x400 relay, Richards-Ross (26) and Felix (25), ran the first and second legs of the final while leaving the clean-up work to the younger Beard (22) and McCorory (22). Richards-Ross got the U.S out to a solid lead, and each runner after her extended or maintained it. It was the third straight World Championship gold for the USA women in the 4x400.

And now Felix, who has already won three medals at this track meet, could go for a fourth if she runs the 4x100 relay on the last day of competition.

 

Anna Chicherova (Russia)—Having spent most of her career in the high-jumping shadow of charismatic superstar Blanka Vlasic (Croatia), Chicherova had a trophy case full of silver and bronze before she finally knocked off her rival in Daegu.

Chicherova cleared 2.03 meters with no misses beforehand to take the title. It's understandable that many will put an asterisk next to this win because Vlasic came into the WC nursing a thigh injury, but that's not Chicherova's problem. She took care of business.

 

German arms—Apparently the NFL needs to start scouting Germany for its next wave of great quarterbacks, because the country is owning all events which involve a man throwing an object for long distances.

Matthias de Zordo's gold-medal victory in the javelin (86.27 meters) marked the third throwing gold for Germany at these World Championships. David Storl won the shot put (21.78 meters) and Robert Harting took home gold in the discus (68.97 meters). In the hammer throw, Markus Esser finished in fourth place (79.12 meters) for Germany, coming about two meters shy of giving his country a throwing sweep.

 

LOSERS

 

Panama—The country only sent two athletes to the World Championships, but both of them flopped in spectacular fashion. On Day 8, Alonso Edward caught a cramp and had to hobble off the track in the middle of the men's 200-meter final. That came two days after 2008 Olympic champion Irving Saladino was beset by fouls and failed to qualify for the finals of the men's long jump.

 

Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Brigitte Foster-Hylton (Jamaica)—Before the women's 100-meter hurdles became Sally Pearson's race to lose, it was one of the most competitive and unpredictable events in track and field. And this isn't way back in the day; this is as recently as 2010, before injuries and other issues took some of the better veteran hurdlers out of the mix.

During that stretch where it was anybody's race, Foster-Hylton managed a World Championship gold medal in 2009, silver in 2003 and bronze in 2005. Now that she's 36 years old, Foster-Hylton wasn't expected to beat Pearson at this WC meet, but it was still a surprise to see her eliminated in the semifinal round. Foster-Hylton finished fourth in her heat.

 

Kellie Wells (USA)—I've said in this space before that the 400-meter hurdles can be a beast. Well, the 100-meter hurdles can be a bitch. Ask any hurdler from Lolo Jones to Liu Xiang and they'll tell you that one clipped hurdle in that short stretch of track can be the difference between first and last place.

Wells went into the WC 100-meter hurdles final viewed as the biggest threat to Pearson, but midway through the race she hit a hurdle and fell to the track. She didn't finish the race. It was another piece of professional heartbreak for Wells, who would have made the 2008 Olympic team had she not torn her hamstring right after the 100-meter hurdle final at the USA Championships.

 

Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway)—Similar to Blanka Vlasic, Thorkildsen came into the WC with a reputation as the best in the world at his event but also nursing an injury. The reigning Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion missed some time during the season with a groin injury. But unlike Vlasic, Thorkildsen had been throwing well enough in the weeks leading up to the WC to still be considered the gold-medal favorite in Daegu.

He was playing catch-up from the get-go, however, as eventual winner Matthias de Zordo hit 86.27 meters on his first throw and Thor couldn't match that distance in any of his five attempts. The closest he got as 84.78, which was good enough for silver.

* Follow on Twitter @AustinBurton206

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