Saturday, August 12, 2017

The conclusion of the Farah & Bolt farewell tour doesn't end well in London...

LONDON—Saturday night was supposed to be the crowning achievement on the 2017 farewell tour for the two most recognizable people in track and field, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, but someone forgot to tell the athletes competing against them that they were supposed to be the Washington Generals, while Bolt and Mo were supposed to be the Harlem Globetrotters at the penultimate night of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at London Stadium.

In the script, Mo Farah (center/photo by Paul Merca), who trains most of the year in Beaverton with the Nike Oregon Project, was supposed to win the men’s 5000, while Usain Bolt was supposed to anchor Jamaica to victory in the meet’s final event of the Saturday night session.

The men’s 5000 saw Farah go to the front early and control the pace, slowing it down to 2:48 for the first kilometer, and being content to stay up front but not be at the point.

Occasionally, someone else would try to take the front, but ultimately, the leader would drop it back and blend in with the rest of the pack.

At the 3000 meter mark, Australia’s Patrick Tiernan, the reigning NCAA cross country champion from Villanova who won the Washington Invitational at Jefferson Park Golf Course a few years ago, tried to inject some pace, knowing that there was no way he’d survive a fast last 800. 

While he opened up a ten meter gap on the field, he ultimately got swallowed back by the pack with less than two laps to go.

Farah and British teammate Andy Butchart went to the front to run the sting out of the three Ethiopians who were parked behind the two Brits as they came to the bell.

In the action packed last lap, Muktar Edris of Ethiopia and teammate Yomif Kejelcha opened up a slight gap, which they would hold as they exited the final turn, but Farah found some room on the inside to pass Kejelcha, while Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo of Team USA, who was thought to be dropped in the last lap, charged back to get third.

Edris took the win in 13:32.79, with Farah second at 13:33.22, and Chelimo third in 13:33.30.

In the men’s 4 x 100 meter relay, Jamaica was down to both Great Britain and the USA entering the final leg, so Usain Bolt would have had to pull something out of the 2008-09 archives to even have a chance to run down either the Americans or the Brits.

While Bolt pulled up with a hamstring cramp almost halfway down the final straight, a battle royale was going on between Great Britain’s Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake, who ran collegiately at Louisiana State, and reigning NCAA sprint champ Christian Coleman of Tennessee.

Mitchell-Blake, who was fourth in the 200, somehow fought his way to catch Coleman, who had edged to the front halfway down the stretch, giving the Brits the win in a world-leading time of 37.47 to the USA’s 37.52, with Japan third in 38.04.

In what probably was one of the most awkward moments of the meet, Maria (Kuchina) Lasitskene, the reigning champion in the women’s high jump, successfully defended her title, clearing 6-8 (2.03m).

With the Russian Federation still under suspension from the IAAF, Lasitskene had to apply to the IAAF to compete as an authorized neutral athlete. Instead of wearing a national team uniform in competition, she wore the 2017 Nike sponsored athlete kit.

When it came time for her victory ceremony, they played the IAAF anthem instead of the Russian anthem.  The organizers may have been better off playing nothing.

In other finals, the USA women’s team won the 4 x 100 relay in 41.82; Australia’s Sally Pearson took the women’s 100 hurdles (12.59); France’s Kevin Mayer won the decathlon with 8768 points; and Germany’s Johannes Vetter won the javelin at 294-11 (89.89m).

50-kilometer race walker Katie Burnett is the final Washington athlete competing in the meet, going at 7:30 am local time (11:30 pm Saturday night in Seattle).

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