Netherlands’s Dafne Schippers justified her decision to leave heptathlon aside for full track participation. After winning the 100m silver last Monday, the Dutch woman ran a race of her life to win the 200m gold on Friday. But more commendable than her victory was the time of 21.63 seconds, which made her the third fastest women to have run that distance. Now only Florence Griffith-Joyner with 21.34 and Marion Jones with 21.62 have better times than Schippers. Another event that highlighted the Beijing night on Friday was decathlon, in which USA’s 2012 Olympic and 2013 world champion Ashton Eaton took a 173 point lead over Canada’s Damian Warner. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Eaton should win the event on Saturday. Another dramatic result was delivered by USA’s Tianna Bartoletta, when she came up with a massive leap of 7.14m in her last attempt. Men’s 110m hurdles was won by Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov but the event had a focus on USA’s Aries Merritt, who took the Bronze because in less than a week’s time, Merrit will undergo a Kidney Transplant. In other finals, Jamaica’s Danielle Williams took the gold in women’s 100m Hurdles and in women’s 20km race-walk; two Chinese athletes made it 1-2 to the utter delight of fan at the Birds Nest.
After the withdrawal of Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce from the 200m sprint, the event was seen as one of the least glamorous ones in Beijing. Only the opposite held true as one committed European set the track on fire. In retrospect, the decision of Felix and Freaser-Pryce proved wise, because if they had run; they couldn’t have matched the ferocity of the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers. In a scintillating track-mastery, Schippers breezed through in 21.63 seconds to become the third fastest 200m woman in history. It was a scintillating race as four of the top five women set their Personal Bests. While Schippers ran the distance in 21.63 to win gold, Jamaica’s silver medalist Elaine Thompson also achieved her fastest time ever in 21.66 seconds. Double Olympic champion Jamaica’ Veronica Campbell-Brown won the bronze in 21.97. For the second time in women’s 200m history, the top three athletes recorded a sub-22 second in the same race and two women; Schippers and Thompson counted themselves as among the top five in the world. Originally, a heptathlon athlete, Schippers was vindicated in switching to full time sprinter. The Dutch was a heptathlon bronze medalist in Moscow but she cornered a far bigger glory in Beijing by grabbing a silver in 100m and gold in 200m.
After the first four events of the decathlon, USA’s Ashton Eaton led Canada’s Damian Warner by 56 points. But the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World champion enhanced his lead by running a decathlon world record of 45 seconds in 400m. Eaton’s lead over the Canadian has swelled to 173 points and there is hardly a way he could lose the gold in the competition. The talk has shifted from Eaton winning the gold to whether he can break the world record of 9039 points that he set at the Olympic Trials three years ago. He already has 4728 after day 1, and the possibility of going beyond 9039 has become quite real.
In a dramatic last attempt of 7.14 meters, USA’s Tianna Bartoletta bounced back to claim her second World Championship gold medal. It was 10 years ago, when Bartoletta won her first World Championship gold at Helsinki as a 19-year old. On Friday, when it seemed that Great Britain’s Sara Proctor had almost had the gold in her bag, the American surpassed Proctor’s 7.07 with a huge leap in her final attempt. Proctor had also set a new British record but she was stunned by Bartoletta’s final leap of 7.14m that pushed the Briton to the second place.
In men’s 110m hurdles, Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov won the gold medal with the PB of 12.98 seconds. While Shubenkov became the 20th member of sub-13 second club and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment won the silver in 13.03s, the central focus rested on USA’s bronze medal winner Aries Merritt. The guy is due to undergo a kidney transplant in four days’ time and he produced a truly brave performance. Merritt clocked 13.04.
In women’s 100m hurdles, Jamaica’s Danielle Williams won the gold medal in a rich field. The hot pace set by Williams rubbed on other athletes and the first three clocked their PB times. For Williams and second-placed Cindy Roleder it was the second time in the evening that they recorded their Personal Bests. Williams clocked 12.57 seconds, Roleder did the race in 12.59 and bronze medalist Belarusian Alina Talay finished in 12.66.
Huge cheers greeted the two Chinese women, who won gold and silver in the 20 km race-walk. World record holder Liu Hong expectedly struck gold in Beijing with compatriot Lu Xiuzhi taking the silver in almost a photo finish. Liu’s time of 1:27:45 was more than three minutes outside her world record of 1:24:38. In the end, it became difficult to determine as to which Chinese would win since they were bunched together at the finish line but Liu was 0.26 second ahead of Lu. Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Olyanovska took the bronze by clocking 1:28:13.