Tales from an IAAF Worlds of shocks and surprises


(From bottom L) US athlete Emma Coburn celebrates with US athlete Courtney Frerichs as Kenya's ...
(From bottom L) US athlete Emma Coburn celebrates with US athlete Courtney Frerichs as Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi (topC), (from top L) Bahrain's Ruth Jebet (topL) and Kenya's Celliphine Chepteek Chespol (top R) look on after the final of the women's 3000m steeplechase athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 11, 2017. US athlete Emma Coburn won ahead of US athlete Courtney Frerichs and Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi. / AFP PHOTO / ANTONIN THUILLIER

Right from the onset of the London 2017 IAAF World Championships, everything pointed to a 10-day global athletics extravaganza that would deliver some of the most iconic performances in recent memory.

The golden goodbye of sprints legend Usain Bolt, middle-distance king Mo Farah’s track career swansong, and of course the splendor that Kenyan brings to every championship were some of the things to look up to.

In many ways, it lived up to its billing.

Kenya, overall first in Beijing two years ago, relinquished top spot at the English capital after finishing second behind USA with 11 medals; five gold, two silver and four bronze as their American counterparts racked up a total of 30.

The dominance of USA was largely attributed to the dismal performance from Jamaica who have long ruled the short sprints but who played second fiddle – and sometimes even further adrift  – in London.

Geoffrey Kirui kick started Kenya’s gold rush when he raced to glory in the men’s marathon making up for the country’s podium no-show over the last two editions.

In doing so, Kirui also became the first man to win the Boston Marathon and the World Marathon titles in the same year after clocking 2hr 08min 27sec for gold, 1min 22sec ahead of Ethiopian rival Tamirat Tola.

His compatriots Elijah Manangoi, Hellen Obiri, Faith Kipyegon and Conseslus Kipruto also brought home the coveted gold medals after emphatic performances.

-Bolt one championship too many-

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt lies on the track after pulling up injured in the final of the men’s 4x100m relay athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL

What was expected to be a golden sign off for the world’s fastest man and easily the greatest sprinter of all time turned into an athletics nightmare as American Justin Gatlin finally got one over Bolt.

By edging that rivalry – often painted a battle between good and evil – Gatlin, a two-time doping cheat, was met with wild boos as the stadium applauded Bolt as though he had won.

Bolt finished that race third as Gatlin led his compatriot Christian Coleman to an American 1-2.

For Bolt, and for athletics, even worse was yet to come as the 100m and 200m world record-holder collapsed on the London Stadium track whilst anchoring Jamaica in the final of the 4x100m as cramp gripped his leg.

It marked a dramatic and inglorious end to the 30-year-old’s otherwise glittering career.

-IAAF backlash over Makwala treatment-

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala reacts after competing in the heats of the men’s 200m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 9, 2017.
Makwala was able to compete in the 200 metres at the world championships in London, after the IAAF decided to allow him to run a solo time-trial after missing yesterday’s heats. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD

Rated as one of the medal contenders for the 200m/400m and tipped the likeliest to upset athletics’ new poster boy Wayde Van Niekerk, Isaac Makwala’s dream was cut short after he was barred from entering the stadium due to a ” rare” disease that had struck lots of competitors and perharps organizers avoiding the spread of the disease. Wise move? I don’t think so! (IMO).

The decision irked many athletics enthusiasts who collectively vouched for the Botswana international to be installed back as IAAF faced the full wrath of supporters.

Later, it was clarified that it was a Government’s directive and not the IAAF. Begging the question, What Government? Why him? Why wasn’t he tested prior? We understand no doctor had approached him for testing, he is the evidence from his remarks…

Quoting: “I arrived at the stadium ready to run but I found a trap set there … and was denied entrance (Government order by the way not IAAF),” he said later in a message to his fans on Facebook.

“We fought all day for the truth to come out … I still maintain I am not sick and have never been tested by any doctor … I shall rise again. It is well.”

If this happened without proper means, this can as well be classed on its own, by the actions of those involved, extended to those who gave the order as 21st century racism, a discriminatory act, and by extent demeaned Makwala, emotionally, physically and psychologically perhaps leading to his dismal performance in the finals. It’s LOGICAL!

Despite allowing him to race, on his own, by the way, even as fans cheered him to finish, the damage was already done. An embarrassment to the IAAF.

-The Semenya debacle-

South Africa’s Caster Semenya waits for the start of the semi-final of the women’s 800m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK

Caster Semenya will perhaps go down as one the finest 800m race queen, and is now slowly upgrading to the 1500m where she bagged bronze on her world championships debut.

Since her ban by IAAF, a lot of athletics fans still question why she was allowed back, two years down the line despite her beyond acceptably high testosterone levels.

Semenya was subjected to gender testing. She was banned from international competitions for almost a year before being cleared and restored by the IAAF.

Since her restoration, no female athlete has ever beaten her to gold in the two-lap race.

Here is my sixth sense, IAAF has tried on several occasions to improve the quality of the sport, we applaud their selfless efforts in this case “I” included but scandals still surround them. If they once banned her, which they did, they should have stuck to their decision and not putting themselves in this kind of mix with pressure now mounting on them to revert their actions.

Gatlin and Semenya, share a similar story and it would only be fair for IAAF to bar them. We have seen Kenyan athletes banned from competing and up to date, they have not been allowed back to compete despite seeking legal actions which bare no fruits, in this case the law should apply equally here, not being strict on others while loosening up on some, how Fair is Fair? In swahili, “Sheria ni Msumeno, hukata pande zote” (The law is like a saw, it cuts both ways).

To remain drama free, IAAF should, in my Opinion once again, stick at all costs to their actions, if rightfully thought and argued and followed proper means.

If it was possible with Russia, a global powerhouse, landing their ruthless axe and banning their national federations, simmering down to an individual should be easy and by so doing they will regain long lost confidence of ardent fans and junkies.

Otherwise, the drama continues and sooner or later, they will have themselves to blame despite several people raising the alarm on their slideshows.

Giants fell and the end of an Era!

Britain’s Mo Farah reacts after finishing second to take silver in the final of the men’s 5000m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Andrej ISAKOVIC

Besides Bolt, British athletics icon Farah who now plans to transition into the road races brought down the curtain down on his glittering track career by winning 10,000 metres gold and 5,000 metres silver in London.

His defeat in the 12-and-a-half lap race meant for the first time in six years of global championship competition he had to settle for silver after falling behind Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.

Bolt and Farah have been a darling to athletics fans around the world and it will be a huge gap left by the two. They will be missed dearly!

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Story By Abdi Rizack
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