World 100m hurdles record-holder breaks championship best to lead US one-two in Birmingham
The women’s 60m hurdles final looked set to be fiercely competitive but Kendra Harrison kept her cool to storm to victory at the IAAF World Indoor Championships on Saturday evening, clocking a championship record of 7.70.
Leading a US one-two ahead of IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Christina Manning, world 100m hurdles record-holder Harrison won a golden first major medal, after she missed out on the Rio Olympics and finished fourth at the world championships in London last year.
Her winning mark equals the American record recently set by Sharika Nelvis and betters the championship best mark of 7.72 recorded by Lolo Jones in 2010.
On this occasion, Nelvis had to settle for a time of 7.86 for fourth behind Nadine Visser of Netherlands, whose 7.84 bagged her the bronze to deny USA a medal sweep.
“It feels amazing to finally get out there and get the job done,” said Harrison, whose mark moves her to equal third on the world all-time list. “To finally get the gold I have been working so hard for.
“Emotionally I am at a loss of words. I have been dreaming about this moment.
“As soon as I pushed out of the blocks I felt great and I just kept going.”
.@Ken_AYE_ on winning her first major medal – @WICBham2018 60mH gold…
“Some athletes can come out here and get the job done on their first try, I was definitely not the case. Those defeats have definitely made me stronger.” #IAAFworlds @usatf pic.twitter.com/A1Ifuejwbk
— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) March 4, 2018
It seems as though Visser’s decision to concentrate on the hurdles has paid off, with the 2014 world under-20 heptathlon and hurdles champion surprised but delighted with her medal.
“I had to decide between the heptathlon and the hurdles and that was a decision I needed to make,” said the 23-year-old, who had earlier run a PB of 7.83 in her semi-final.
“Yesterday in the heats I wasn’t that good but today I had the attention and it all came together.”
Among athletes to exit the competition at the semi-final stage had been Australia’s 2017 world champion Sally Pearson (7.92), whose main focus is on the Commonwealth Games on home soil next month.
In the men’s 60m hurdles heats, Britain’s two athletes got safely through to the semi-finals with European indoor champion Andrew Pozzi confirming his position as one of the favourites with the fastest time of the five races.
The first heat was won by Cypriot Milan Trajkovic, with Britain’s David King qualifying comfortably in the fourth and final automatic spot in 7.69.
In the second heat, US champion Jarret Eaton won impressively in a relaxed 7.56. Ireland’s Ben Reynolds was seventh in 7.89.
The third heat saw a surprise as Ahmad Al-Molad of Saudi Arabia won in 7.63 ahead of Jamaican Ronald Levy’s 7.65.
The fourth heat was clearly won by Pozzi from lane eight in a season’s best of 7.53 from the 2012 Olympic champion and the world indoor champion that year, Aries Merritt, who ran 7.61.
The fifth and final heat was won by France’s triple world indoor medallist Pascal Martinot-Lagarde with 7.62.
» See the March 8 issue of AW for full coverage from Birmingham