The 2019 IAAF World Championships have come to a close, and Canada can walk away feeling very good about its athletes heading into an Olympic year. The team is coming away from the championships stronger than ever, with one silver and four bronze medals (only topped by the 2015 medal count), along with four national records (10,000m, 1,500m, 400mH and 4x400m) and the most top-15 finishes in history.
These championships were drama-filled, with several issues arising that weren’t a result of athletes’ performances. Here’s a look at what went down over the last 10 days and where the sport of track and field is heading into 2020.
The Canadians are on the rise
Team Canada finished ninth overall with the most top-15 finishes ever, five medals and four national records. Some of these top finishes and records went to experienced athletes like Andre De Grasse, Evan Dunfee and Mohammed Ahmed, but others like Gabriela DeBues-Stafford showed that they’re ready for a jump to the next level.
DeBues-Stafford finished sixth in the fastest-ever women’s 1,500m final in a time that, any other year, would have snagged her the win. The runner smashed her old Canadian record in the process and landed herself in 21st on the all-time list for the event by running a 3:56.12.
Marco Arop is anther young runner who showed his stuff in the 800m. Arop is still an NCAA competitor, but after a breakout performance at the 2018 national championships, where he beat Canadian record-holder Brandon McBride, he’s continued his climb to the top. After a beautifully run semi-final, Arop landed himself in the final, where he claimed seventh position. His composure at his first-ever World Championships bodes well for the future of Canadian middle distance running.
Jamaica struggles without Bolt
This was the first World Championship without Usain Bolt in a long time. The multi-world champion and world record-holder left a void in the Jamiacan men’s lineup. While their women performed extremely well, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce taking the 100m crown after recently giving birth, the men faltered. For the first time in a long time, there was not one Jamaican man in the 200m final. Their 4x100m relay team also didn’t qualify for the final.
Alberto Salazar stole the show
For all of the wrong reasons, Alberto Salazar, former Nike Oregon Project coach, was a constant topic of conversation. The US Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar mid-competition for four years following a years-long investigation and secret arbitration case. The details appear in a BBC report by journalist Mark Daly and a statement by USADA outlining the specific charges, which include trafficking in testosterone (a banned substance), illegal methods and evidence-tampering at the NOP’s Beaverton, Oregon headquarters. Salazar is former coach to Mo Farah and Kara Goucher and current coach of marathoner Galen Rupp and the newly-crowned 10,000m/1,500m champion Sifan Hassan. The Salazar news clouded the championship and performances of the seven athletes he had running in the meet. The coach is appealing USADA’s decision.
Holding a World Championships in the Middle East had its benefits and downfalls. The stadium, which was air conditioned, produced multiple championship, national and even world records. However, out on the roads it was tough. You can’t air condition a marathon course. While the weather for the men’s marathon on Saturday was manageable, the women suffered 10 days earlier. Of the 68 starters, nearly half of the field didn’t make it to the finish line. The winning time was one of the slowest in history.
While most athletes managed, it would be difficult to call the conditions optimal for road performance.