Commendable second despite low medal count for Kenya

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Aug 14, 2017
  • Gold medallist Elijah Manangoi poses with silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and bronze medallist Filip Ingebrigtsen of Norway after the Men's 1500m Final. (Getty Images for IAAF)

  • Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, silver, Hellen Obiri, gold and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, bronze, pose with their medals for the Women's 5000 Metres final. (Getty Images for IAAF)

  • Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president described the Championships as the most competitive and compelling of all time. (Getty Images for IAAF)

Kenya topped the medal table at the last World Championships in Beijing with seven gold medals and on the last night of competition, Hellen Obiri and Elijah Manangoi brought their tally up to five across the championships.

This cemented Kenya's spot on the medal table behind the United States.

A silver medallist behind Vivian Cheruiyot at the Olympics last summer, Obiri followed – and weathered – Almaz Ayana’s trademark mid-race break before producing a blitzing final circuit of 60.11 to scupper the Ethiopian’s chances of achieving a long distance double.

Obiri stopped the clock at 14:34.86 with Ayana fading to second in 14:40.35 – some 16 seconds slower than the second half of her momentous run in the 10,000m last Saturday. 

Manangoi banished the memories of an injury-ridden Olympic campaign last summer by claiming the 1500m title, and dethroning the three-time reigning champion Asbel Kiprop in the process.

A medal sweep looked possible at the 800m checkpoint in 1:57.55 with the Kenyan triumvirate eight metres clear but while Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot filled the top two spots on the podium in 3:33.61 and 3:33.99, Kiprop – who seemed to be returning to form during the rounds – faded back to ninth in 3:37.24.

While this has been a championships of shocks, not even six races in 10 days was going to stop Caster Semenya from regaining her world title in the 800m.

Semenya was sixth at the bell but the South African pulled out a sizeable negative split of 56.63, crossing the finish line in a world-leading 1:55.16 – the second-fastest winning time in championship history after Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 1:54.68 from 1983.

USA top medal table

The United States topped the medal table at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 with 10 gold medals – and 31 in total – but the championships fittingly climaxed with yet another upset result in the men’s 4x400m with Trinidad & Tobago claiming the title.

The United States were by no means fielding a vintage quartet but the reigning champions were still nonetheless tipped to close out the programme with their seventh successive title in this event.

However, it became clear the favourites were missing the injured LaShawn Merritt – who anchored their quartet to a narrow win over Trinidad and Tobago at the last World Championships – and in a reversal of the outcome in Beijing, Lalonde Gordon overhauled world finalist Fred Kerley on the anchor for a famous win, 2:58.12 to 2:58.61.

The women’s 4x400m final played out exactly as expected with Quanera Hayes handing on a big lead to Allyson Felix, who duly extended their margin with a second leg split timed unofficially at 48.7.

Shakima Wimbley and individual champion Phyllis Francis got the baton around without any skirmishes with the United States winning by the best part of half a length of the track in 3:19.02 ahead of Great Britain (3:25.00) and Poland (3:25.41).

This was the United States’ 10th gold medal of the championships and the 11th of Felix’s unparalleled career.

After running the second leg of their gold medal-winning 4x100m team yesterday evening, Felix became the most bemedalled athlete in World Championships history with 16 medals and after claiming her second title of the championships in the 4x400m, Felix matches Usain Bolt’s haul of 11 gold medals.

But while Bolt bowed out of competition at this championships, it is full steam ahead to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for Felix.

Most competitive

Speaking ahead of the final evening session on Sunday (13), IAAF President Sebastian Coe described the IAAF World Championships London 2017 as the most competitive and compelling World Championships of all time.

“I can’t remember a time when the competition has been so competitive and the stories around them so compelling,” said Coe.

“From the opening salvo of discus and long jump to the 4x400m this evening we have witnessed sometimes no more than the thickness of a vest between the finalists.

“There is a clear recognition of the connection between athletes and fans,” he added.

“The ability of athletes to raise their game is, in a large part, driven by theatre provided by full houses. “When we get that right, this sport is unassailable.”

Many of the sport’s established stars – Mo Farah, Wayde van Niekerk, Sally Pearson, for example – won gold medals, but there were also several surprise medallists, which has introduced fans a field of young athletes making their debut on the global scene.

The likes of 100m silver medallist Christian Coleman, 400m hurdles winner Karsten Warholm, 200m finalist Abdul Sani Brown and triple jump winner Yulimar Rojas are among the many captivating stories that have unfolded over the past ten days.

The sport’s stars, new and old, have been able to better connect with fans at these championships, thanks to various social media campaigns taking place both inside the stadium and for those watching at home.

Many athletes have commented on how the atmosphere from the sell-out crowds have helped inspire them to medal-winning performances and highly competitive finals with unprecedented depth in numerous events.

This World Championships has also helped the IAAF reach a landmark of 1.2million spectators at World Athletics Series events in 2017, almost doubling the previous record figure.

Of those spectators, 900,000  came from the IAAF World Championships.

Use of technology

The IAAF’s use of technology and event presentation continues to evolve. Spectators have been able to use social media to interact and engage directly with the in-stadium crowds with photos, videos and messages being projected on to the screen.

The use of body cameras was tested during the championships cumulative audience of about 400 million.

IAAF’s website traffic is up 20% on the last World Championships with 3.4million users and 7.5million sessions. There has also been a significant move towards mobile usage with more than half of the website’s traffic now coming via mobile devices.

A huge increase in followers for the IAAF’s social media channels – namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – has led to nearly eight million engagements across all platforms.

In collaboration with Microsoft and Skype, the IAAF launched the ‘SPIKES Bot’ ahead of the championships, which has helped expand the reach of athletics to a new audience.

“We're still analysing numbers, but we're looking at amazing figures across all platforms," said IAAF CEO Olivier Gers. "It's indicative that our sport is attractive to all generations and different demographics."