Young American grabs his first global title while Briton is left heartbroken at having to settle for fourth in Doha
It might not have been spectacular, but Noah Lyles became world champion at the first time of asking when he came through to take 200m gold in Doha.
As the 22-year-old celebrated and savoured what will surely be the first of many major titles, however, Britain’s Adam Gemili found himself at the very opposite end of the emotional scale.
The Briton had run himself into a clear lead coming off the bend and, for a few moments, he dared to dream. The former European champion just could not hold his form, however, and Lyles began to edge past on his left, while Olympic silver medallist Andre De Grasse did likewise on the right.
The American hit the line first in 19.83 (0.3 m/sec) ahead of his Canadian rival’s 19.95, while Gemili’s agony was complete when Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez managed snatch bronze in 19.98 and he was forced to settle for fourth in 20.03.
“I had it,” said a disconsolate Gemili, who will now hope to bounce back as Britain’s 4x100m relay team prepare to defend their world title later this week.
“I just lost all my bounce at the end. I had nothing left. All my form went out of the window and I just ran like such an amateur. I just can’t believe that, I came so close.
“This was such a good opportunity. I’ve been running so well through the heats; my body feels good and I let it go when I had it. I don’t like apologising for a performance, but I feel like I’ve let so many people down. There are so many people that have believed in me who have sent me so many nice messages over the last few days.”
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) October 2, 2019
He added: “The last two years I’ve been plagued by injuries, but I’ve got back to where I should be, so to not to break 20 seconds is so disappointing and heart-breaking. I had the medal and it just slipped out of my hands.”
For Lyles, a sprinter renowned for his flamboyance, the nature of his victory almost felt low-key and Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19 is safe for the time being.
The new champion’s satisfaction was clear, however.
“So many times this year I’ve thought of being world champion, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Lyles, whose father Kevin was awarded a gold medal when he ran in the heat on the way to America winning the 4x400m world relay in Gothenburg 24 years ago.
“I have on my phone, I say it to myself in my car, I think it all the time – and finally to have done it feels unbelievable.
“I don’t know how many people come to their first World Championships and get the gold, but I’ve done it. I just knew no matter what position I found myself in I can always find a way to come through. And when I crossed the line I just felt relief. This time last year I’d only just started running. Think of that. Don’t say I’m the new Bolt. I’m me. If you like me, I’ll happily entertain you. It’s my time.”
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) October 2, 2019
MEN’S 200m FINAL FACTS
Noah Lyles (USA) 19.83 0.168 (reaction time)
Andre De Grasse (CAN) 19.95 0.168
Alex Quinonez (ECU) 19.98 0.189
Adam Gemili (GBR) 20.03 SB 0.158
Ramil Guliyev (TUR) 20.07 0.164
Aaron Brown (CAN) 20.10 0.163
Zhenye Xie (CHN) 20.14 0.161
Kyle Greaux (TTO) 20.39 0.170
Dina’s golden moment edging closer
Dina Asher-Smith’s chances of adding world 200m gold to her 100m silver were greatly enhanced when she progressed with ease in winning her semi-final on a night when Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson withdrew from the competition due to injury.
The Briton clocked 22.16 (0.5 m/sec), the fastest time recorded throughout the heats and semis. With no Dafne Schippers, Marie-Josee Ta Lou or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to concern her either, there will surely never be a better chance for Asher-Smith – already the favourite going into these championships – to claim her first global title.
Americans Brittany Brown and Anglerne Annelus were second and third-fastest qualifiers in running 22.46 (0.4) and 22.49 (0.4) to win semi-finals two and one respectively.
Asher-Smith will be Britain’s sole representative in the final. Jodie Williams ran 22.78 for fifth in semi-final one, while Beth Dobbin was sixth in the second semi-final with 23.11.
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) October 1, 2019
There was frustration for both.
“I backed off too much around the bend,” said Williams. “I’ve been going out too hard all season, so the plan was to hold, hold, hold. I just came off the gas a little too much. It is so frustrating because that is well within my capabilities, getting into that final. That should have been easy.It’s a massive missed opportunity for me.”
Dobbin said: “There is something missing. I don’t know what it is but I’ve just not found the shape I was in during July. I had a niggle after the Anniversary Games but I didn’t think it would set me back as much as it has but there is clearly something wrong.”
Hudson-Smith out, Yousif through, James fastest
There were mixed fortunes for Britain’s 400m athletes in the competition’s qualifying heats. European champion Matthew Hudson-Smith’s race last barely 80 metres of the first heat before he pulled up with a hamstring problem and was helped from the track in a wheelchair. Rabah Yousif, meanwhile, progressed in third from heat six with a run of 45.40.
With Wayde van Niekirk not competing, there will be a new champion crowned in 2019 and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James was the fastest qualifier overall with 44.94, American Diamond League champion Michael Norman clocking 45.00 and Jamaican Demish Gaye 45.02. Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir (45.08) and America’s Fred Kerley (45.19) also progressed.
Smooth 400m progress for Shaunae
Gold medal favourite Shaunae Miller-Uibo unsurprisingly qualified fastest for the women’s 400m final, clocking 49.66 from the second semi, while Bahrain’s 2017 world silver medallist Salwa Eid Naser (49.79) was second-fastest overall and America’s Wadeline Jonathas third with a personal best of 50.07. Defending champion Phyllis Francis qualified in 50.22
Neither of the British duo of Laviai Nielsen and Emily Diamond were able to progress.
Nielsen was distraught after finishing eighth in her semi-final with 52.94, while Emily Diamond was encouraged by her season’s best of 51.62 in fourth from the last semi-final.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with that,” said the 28-year-old, who competed with the 4x400m mixed relay earlier in the week. “It’s been a gruelling four days. I have tested my body and I have surprised myself in each round. You should never doubt yourself about what you can do – the last few days have shown that if something is thrown at me, I can go out there and give it my all. To come away with a season’s best today, and another sub 52, I’m thrilled.”
McLaughlin and Muhammad clear first hurdle
Sydney McLaughlin led the way in the opening heats of women’s 400m hurdles qualifying, the young American easing her way to victory in the first race with 54.45. Her team-mate and world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad was third-fastest with 54.87 in winning heat three, with Norwegian Amalie Iuel was second-quickest in a national record of 54.72.
Britain’s Jessica Turner (55.72) and Meghan Beesley (55.97) both also made their way through.
» Check out the dedicated Doha 2019 section on our website here