Stuart Weir is our senior writer for all things Europe and GB. This is his second article on the first day of the World Champs. Stuart has a wicked sense of humor, well-developed and perhaps a little off-kilter. It is not a negative in my book. It keeps me smiling when I edit his stories.
The 2023 World Athletics Championships got underway in Budapest in the new purpose-built stadium. I haven’t seen any official attendance figures, but I would say that the 36,000-capacity stadium was two-thirds to three-quarters full morning and evening. The start was an anti-climax when the first event – an early morning race walk – was postponed by a couple about 3 hours and the stadium program by an hour due to heavy rain and the threat of thunderstorms. By the evening, it was humid and in the high 70s Fahrenheit.
The 20k Men’s medalist in the Race walk, Alvaro Martin, is in the middle, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
The first medal was duly won by Álvaro Martin for Spain in the 20K race walk. The three-and-a-half-hour morning program included heptathlon, sadly with no Nafi Thiam, a preliminary round of the men’s 100m to give small countries with no athletes who had achieved the qualifying standard, a chance to compete in the world championship, three field events and heats of the women’s 1500 and men’s steeplechase. To state the obvious, Faith Kipyegon looked strong in the 1500.
In the mixed relay prelim, we also had the first intervention from the officials who added Poland to the eight qualifiers for the final on the grounds that they had been impeded. In the evening, Favour Ashe had the doubtful distinction of being the first athlete DQed for a false start.
Fred Kerley, World Athletics Championships
August 19-27, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Going back to that preliminary round of the 100m, there were winners from Guyana, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and The Gambia among athletes from 28 countries. Sadly none of the qualifiers progressed through the evening first round. It was only the first round of the men’s 100, but six men went under 10 seconds!
The evening program gave us the men’s 1500m prelims – I think Ingebrigtsen has a chance of a medal.
Josh Kerr and Jakob Ingebrigtsen begin the jousting, 1,500m heats, on August 19, 2023,
photo by Kevin Morris
In addition, there were three finals. The hard-working male shot-putters had qualified in the morning and the final in the evening, as did the mixed relay runners along with the straight-to-final women’s 10000 meters. Ryan Crouser won the shot – no surprise there. USA took the mixed relay title in a world record time, and Gudaf Tsegay led an Ethiopian 1-2-3 in the 10K – but that does not tell the story of the dramatic end to those two events.
The Women’s 10,000m, final 50 meters, August 19, 2023, photo by Christian Petersen for Getty Images/World Athletics
In the 10k, Sifan Hassan and Gudaf Tsegay tangled for the lead with a few meters to go, resulting in Hassan falling, lying on the ground, getting up, standing, and walking across the line, by which time 10 athletes had passed her. Then incredibly, lightning struck twice in 10 minutes, with Femke Bol and Alexis Holmes tangling and Bol going down about 2 meters short of the line. Netherlands were then disqualified, leaving the USA as winners and GB as silver-medallists in the mixed relay.
The battle in the Mixed 4x400m relay! photo by Kevin Morris