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Day 4: Kenya's Kipyegon defies local darling Laura Muir as McLeod makes Jamaica smile again

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon powers to dramatic 1500m gold ahead of Jenny Simpson and Caster Semenya. (Photo: Getty Images)
by Nicholas Chan, AIPS Young Reporter, Hong Kong

LONDON, August 7, 2017 - If you are talking about one of the most unpredictable events in IAAF World Championships, it has to be women’s 1500m which was fought until the last 10m to close down the fourth day of the IAAF Championship. Although the home crowded failed to see their favorite Laura Muir win a medal, it is a race that will go down to history. Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon won the dramatic showdown for gold with American Jenny Simpson geting silver and South Africa's Caster Semenya powering to bronze in the final strides.

Before the final of women 1500m showcased on the fourth night in the London Stadium, the previous heats and semi-finals only made things more complicated. World recorder holder, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, who finished with the fastest time in the preliminary, turned out falling short of the final with a 6th place finish in the semis, which required her to qualify final through time. In contrast, Britain’s Laura Muir, raised from a disappointing 26th ranking in first round to a 4:03.64, making her the second fastest time entering the final.

“I feel the pressure because I am the Olympic champion, there with a world leading time, Diamond league winner, defending champion, I know it is going to be a tough race,” as intensely as she took the race ahead of the final, however, it was Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon who got the last smile.

The group went tight on the first two laps in Muir's lead, but it is the last 400m when Kipyegon, Muir and Sifan Hassan successfully made a three-woman-band that made a 20m advantage. Game got intense at the last 100m when the stadium's cheers reached maximum, America's Jennifer Simpson and Caster Saymenya attacked from both side at the last 10m and dived for a 2-3 finish respectively in 4:02.76 and 4:02.90. Kipyegon managed to escape the mess with a 4:02.59 win while the Brit came in a disappointing fourth just 0.07 behind Semenya.

Omar McLeod celebrates brining Jamaica their first godl medal of London 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

McLeod made Jamaica smile again when reigned the hurdle

"I really wanted to come here and make Jamaican flag up high! To Usain Bolt, this is for you!" After the shocking result in both men’s and women’s 100m races, 110m hurdler Omar McLeod cleared his nation’s disappointment as the 23-year-old Olympic champion claimed his first world title with time of 13.04.

Also, defending champion Sergey Shubenkov from Russia, who competed under the neutral flag, made his first international comeback after two years a tenth of a second behind McLeod and a silver medal after which he exclaimed “it is so good to be back!”. Balazs Baji from Hungary came in third with 13.28.

China’s Wang dedicates hammer-throw silver to idol

There was another medal to catch in the women’s hammer throw, where the world record holder and reigning Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland, displayed a dramatic success. She started with a disappointing 70.45m attempt, that saw her almost missed the final, where later, she used two throws of 77.39m and 77.90m to turn the tables around, claiming her third world title.

Just behind her, silver medalist Zheng Wang, not only brought China their first medal from London, also dedicated it to her teammate Wenxiu Zhang, who came fourth after Poland’s Malwina Kopron. Zhang is set to retire after competing in nine World Championships.

London silver-medalist Wang said “She (Zhang) will always be the best hammer throw in China, being in the field with her always encourage me to make better throws.”

On the other side of the field, triple-jumper Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas used the same dramatic trick to come back on the fifth jump of 14.91m, leaving Caterine Ibarguen shy of the gold by 2 cm, with 14.89m. Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova finished with a bronze just like two years ago in Beijing.

Blake leads Jamaica in chase of 200m title

Yohan Blake, who just missed the podium in 100m, led the Jamaican sprinting army back on the 200m field. He finished with a safe 20.39 that keeps Jamaica’s hope of claiming their first sprinting gold in London alive. Meanwhile, the local took the limelight. Britain’s Daniel Talbot dashed to a personal best of 20.16 with close competition from Olympic and world record holder South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, who is attempting a 200-400m double in London, while another local favorite Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake proceeded with the second fastest qualifying time of 20.08.

The other track semi-finals also brought excitement to the night In the men's’ 400m hurdles, six athletes made it to final under 49 with two-time World Champion Kerron Clement from the US take the lead. For women’s 400m, the fastest time went to Bahrain's Salva Eid Naser who broke the national record with 50.08. Both finals are set for Wednesday night.

After the four intense race days, the United States conquered the top of the medal table with two gold medals from the 100m, fives silvers and two bronzes. Kenya, the distance-running kingdom came second with two golds (men’s marathon and women’s 1500m), one silver and two bronzes while Ethiopia secured third place with the women’s 10000m gold and two silvers.

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