The Worlds on NBC – thoughts, interviews from TV on days 5–7!

By Jeff Benjamin

Being the Budapest 2023 champs’ meet promoter is like being in charge of the circus. Putting everything interview into perspective as well as keeping the audience’s attention to the events when it counts, is no easy task.

Just as challenging is when you’re on a live television network, like NBC, broadcasting live to millions around the world, and you not only have to observe all of the so-called “Three-ring circuses of track and field,”  but you also have to spontaneously call certain events that can literally last seconds as well as attempt to keep the audience glued into it.

The NBC TV crew, so far, have “ surfed the waves” quite successfully. Yet with some of the shocking performances, it has never been easy for them or anyone to stay on target.

Here’s a summary of day 5

Day 5

1) Men’s 1500 Meter Final

When  the men toed the starting line of the 1500 meters, Leigh Diffey  mentioned how this event has garnered much attention to the young talent competing,
“with ferocious speed.”

Kara Goucher echoes the same thoughts. “This final has been building up all season,” said Goucher, “ and it’s the best 1500 field I can remember.”

Josh Kerr takes the WC 1,500m title! photo by Kevin Morris

It certainly would also be a 1500 race that one will forget! With favorite Jakob Ingebrigtsen taking the lead after 500 meters, the commentators discussed how smooth and deceiving American Yared Nuguse was running. But through 800, Diffey exclaimed, “Don’t count out Josh Kerr!”

With 500 to go in the race, Goucher commented on how Kerr had said he was saving his kick in the semi to be ready for the final, and with 200 to go, Kerr kicked ahead and stormed past the Norwegian with Diffey harkening back to last year‘s 1500 race where Brit Jake Wightman shockingly won the title in the same way.

“Last year it was another Brit!”, said Diffey. “And it looks like history has repeated itself!”

It sure did, as Kerr won an emotional victory (3:29.05). “During the past year, Kerr has toned down his statement and words and had become humble,” Seth Goucher. “And you know why? Because he was quietly planning tonight!”

Kerr echoed those thoughts in his post-interview with Lewis Johnson. “If I didn’t make that move,” said Kerr when he approached the last 200 meters, “ I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.”

No regrets now!

2) Women’s 400 Meter Final

“This is going to be a hot one… I’ve been waiting for this!”, said Sonya Richards Ross of this top field.

And while Ross and Ato Boldon considered the Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino the favorite for the gold, they also sent birthday shoutouts to American Talitha Diggs, who would be competing out of lane nine.

Marileidy Paulino, World Athletics Championships
Budapest, Hungary
August 19-27, 2023, by Kevin Morris

Coming off the final turn, Paulino. As expected, had it all locked up, finishing in a time of 48.76.

“This is her time!”, exclaimed Boldon.

“It’s going to be a new world champion at 400 meters,” said Diffey. “Since 2009, there’s been a different 400 winner at each World Championships!”

3) Women’s Pole Vault

After a gripping duel between American Katie Moon and Australian Nina Kennedy, Paul Swangard and Trey Hardee kept calling each jump with the same suspense, no doubt felt by the audience.

Katie Moon and Nina Kennedy discus sharing gold in the W Pole Vault, photo by Katie Moon

Yet when both the American and Australian, who were tied for first, opted not to have a jump off and share the gold medal, Swangard echoed thoughts of great respect and sportsmanship on both of these athletes’ performances that magical night.

4) Men’s 400 Hurdles Final

“ is this the night that Rai Benjamin is golden?” asked Boldon. Richards-Ross echoed the possible chances of 2022 Brazilian champ Alison Dos Santos. “But,” said Richards Ross, noting that Dos Santos would be competing out of Lane Nine, “He’s hoping for luck in Lane 9 just like a Sha’Carri Richardson.”

But there was no luck found as the great Karsten Warholm, who has come back from an injury-plagued 2022 season, blew away the field over the final hurdles, dominating his event and winning quite easily (46.89).

“Wow, wow, wow!” yelled Ross. “The fact that he ran from the front shows he’s so hard to beat!”

Karsten Warholm, World Athletics Championships
Budapest, Hungary
August 19-27, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

Boldon heaped praise on the bronze medalist Kyron McMaster as no athlete from the British Virgin Islands has ever won a medal.

But Boldon sounded like he was shaking his head in empathy as the American Benjamin gave it all but had to settle for the silver.

“He’s (Benjamin)  tried everything, “said Bolden, “and now it’s back to the drawing board again.”

The night concluded with Richardson-Ross proclaiming, “Every night has been better and better – just breathtaking!”

Watch your breath over the next days to come!