The Best & Worst of London 2017

The London 2017 World Athletics Championships are officially over. The best athletes in the world came to London to put their abilities to the test and push themselves to their limits, and created some truly memorable moments. However, it’s fair to say that not all of these moments were memorable for the right reasons. While we had some things that had us jumping for joy, we had others that were less than satisfying to watch unfold. So to summarise proceedings, we’ve compiled a list of some the best and worst parts of the London 2017 World Athletics Championships.

The Best

Mo Farah Bows Out

Mo Farah Wins Gold 10'000m London 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships 5000m.
Mo Farah takes the gold in the 10000m in his last appearance in the event at the World Championships. Source: Eurosport.

It may not of been the fairy tale ending, but it certainly was a fairy tale start to Mo Farah’s final appearances on the track at the World Championships. He ensured that the Championships got off to electric start, winning a gold on the opening night in the 10000m, but narrowly missed out on a third World Championship distance double, as he got a silver in the 5000m later in the tournament. It may not of been a perfect ending and although Mo seemed gutted at the time, and we all wanted to see him claim his third double, it was by no means a failure. It’s always sad to see such a successful athlete leave the track, but he left in a blaze of glory picking up two medals for GB, and left the track in the World Championships with his head held high. Now that is something that is great to see. Mo isn’t quite done with athletics yet though, as he moves on now to marathon running next year, and we can’t wait to see him tear it up on the streets.

Rodriguez’s Heptathlon High Jump Heroics

Yorgelis Rodriguez, personal best, heptathlon, high jump, IAAF ,World athletics Championships, London 2017
Yorgelis Rodriguez in disbelief as she clears her personal best in the high jump heptathlon. Source: Getty Images.

Whatever your sport. You have to say that you’d be pretty delighted if you achieved your personal best on the world stage. Imagine if you achieved it twice in one tournament, you’d be beside yourself. Now imagine if you did it three times…

That’s what Cuban heptathlete Yorgelis Rodríguez managed to achieve in the high jump round of the heptathlon, and it was a great sight to see. Although she didn’t jump highest (she came second to the Belgian Nafissatou Thiam, who would go on to win the heptathlon), she put in a stunning performance. She first beat her personal best of 1.89m, before sending her coach and Cubans across the world into delirium as she then went on to clear 1.92, topping he personal best for a second time in one competition. As the session was coming to a close, all eyes were focused on the only remaining athletes on the field: Thiam and Rodriguez. All the spectators were engrossed in the event, as Rodriguez then remarkably cleared her PB for a third time jumping at a height of 1.95m, erupting the London Stadium. She retired from the event in second place to Thiam, and although she would miss out on a medal she set a Cuban record of 6594 points, the highest points tally to not win a medal in the World Championships. It was a fantastic achievement recognised by everyone in the crowd, and made for a truly memorable moment for the young Cuban.

GB’s Relay Riot

Team GB Relay win London 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships. 4x100m
The Women’s relay team celebrate their success. Source: The Express

It’s quite nice to be using the term “riot” in a positive sense when describing something from a major sporting event. Usually I have to use this word in it’s most literal term, to describe waves of fan violence, but here it’s just to describe the emphatic performances of Great Britain’s relay teams at London 2017. Seeing the GB women take the silver in the 4x100m relay seemed like it would be the highlight of the night, but moments later the men went one better, and managed to edge gold in the same event, despite an extremely competitive line up. It was a great moment that had us all on our feet, and fantastic footage even surfaced of the women celebrating the men’s win at the side of the track.

That wasn’t the end of our relay success either, as the next night the men claimed a bronze in the 4x400m, and the Women claimed a silver in the same event. The performances from these teams turned around a championships that just seemed like they just weren’t to be, into a fine success for GB.

Emerging GB Talent

London 2017, IAAF, World Athletics Championships, Men's, Women's, 4x100m relay team, gold medal, silver medal, GB, Great Britain, medal ceremony.
Three of the gold medal winning men’s 4x100m relay team were just 23. Source: Getty Images.

Although there may be a lot of GB’s stars retiring from the track & field, GB certainly has nothing to worry about as far as it’s future is concerned, in fact it is very bright. Few of them may have medalled but don’t let that fool you, London 2017 shown that GB has a lot of athletes that have their eyes set on the top prizes, and that they have the potential to go and get them. Middle distance runner Laura Muir for example, narrowly missed out on medals in the 1500m and 5000m and she is only twenty four. As well as this Katrina Johnson-Thompson (also 24) set a personal best in the heptathlon, Callum Hawkins (25) set a personal best in the marathon, and missed out on a medal by under a minute, and three of those in the men’s 4x100m relay final (Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Adam Gemili, and Chijindu Ujah) were only 23. All of these athletes are yet to hit their peak and they are already competing with the best.

GB are very much in a transitional phase for athletics, so ignore the tabloids who tell you the championships were a failure and that we should of done better. There were amazing achievements all round from our young talent, many of whom, could have golden futures.

Norway’s First Gold in 30 Years

Karsten Warholm, Norway, 400m, Gold, World Athletics Championships, IAAF, London 2017.
Karsten Warholm reacts to winning Norway’s first World Championship track & field gold in over 30 years by attempting to bite off his own fingers. Source: Lucy Nicholson (REUTERS)

GB weren’t the only ones with youngsters producing great achievements however. 21-year-old Karsten Warholm pulled off a stunning result when he nabbed Norway’s first gold in world track athletics in 30 years, after winning the 400m hurdles in the absolutely pouring down rain. He was beside him self with joy with what he achieved, so much so it seemed like he was going to rip his own face off when he seen the result appear on the screen. Seeing someone so passionate about his sport achieve something truly historic was a joy to take in, and delighted the Norwegians that had made the trip to see it happen. The young athlete is full of character, having given a cheeky interview with the BBC after his win, and could be seen before his races literally hitting himself in the face to fire himself up. He was so psyched up with intensity and in the zone for the race, it’s no wonder nobody caught him. He ran a well balanced and well paced race that was near faultless, to hold off  Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, and USA’s Kerron Clement. With him still being so young, don’t be surprised if you here this guys name again in the near future.

Aly Dixon’s Marathon Moment in the Sun

Aly Dixon, Womens marathon, marathon, Sunderland, Lead, London 2017, IAAF, World Athletics Championships.
Sunderland’s Aly Dixon made the most of her chance to shine in the marathon. Source: Spikes.

In truth, Aly Dixon was never going to be anywhere near the medals in the marathon, but she didn’t let that stop her having her fifteen minutes of fame at a home world championships. In fact, she had well over forty minutes of fame. Rather than holding back and focusing on achieving her personal best, she broke away from the leading pack early, and led the race right up until the final nine miles.

She made the most of the opportunity as well, she was always firing up the spectators at roadside, gesturing with her hands for the crowd to make some noise and giving out high fives to anyone she passed who left a hand hanging out. She put in the performance of her life, and gave everything she had to give, entertaining spectators while doing it.

It may not of been the smartest move if your looking to achieve your personal best, but she still put in a terrific performance, giving everything she had.. She would eventually drop off, struggling to keep pace with the leading pack, and eventually finished 18th, with fellow Brit Charlotte Perdue passing her to finish thirteenth. She was so tired by the end of the race that she collapsed to the floor once crossing the line and had to be carried away using a wheelchair. It was great to see someone entertaining and the crowd and making the most of her moment.

The Worst

A Norovirus Nightmare For The IAAF

Isaac Makwala. 200m, 400m, noravirus, disqualification, medical, IAAF, World Athletics Championships, London 2017.
Botswanan athlete Isaac Makwala was not allowed to compete in the 400m final and the 200m heats after being infected with the norovirus. Source: Getty Images.

Something that the IAAF will no doubt be wanting you to forget about from the World Championships is the outbreak of the norovirus which was reported to have infected thirty athletes and team members, all of which where staying at the Tower Hotel. After working with the IAAF to trace the source of the outbreak, the hotel was ruled out, however the actual source was never reported.

The outbreak resulted in many athletes having to either drop out or be disqualified from their respective events, including Ireland’s Thomas Barr, and Canadian marathon runner Eric Gillis (who was amongst a number of people who were put under quarantine to prevent the virus’ spread) who had to drop out of the marathon with six miles remaining. The most reported incident however was that of Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who’s case was surrounded by a sea of confusion. He wasn’t allowed to compete in the 400m final (in which he was a medal hopeful), after being escorted off site by IAAF officials when showing up to the warm up track expecting to compete. He was then also prevented from competing in the 200m heats, again despite himself saying he felt fit enough to compete and that he wished to take part. This sparked conspiracy theories and caused there to be some confusion amongst fans and athletes, which turned to anger being directed at the IAAF, who’s lack of communication and seemingly lack of consistency only added to this. Eventually he was allowed to compete, but had to run a qualifying lap by himself against the clock. He had the entire stadium roaring him on and made it into the final, in which he finished sixth.

It was a situation that perhaps wouldn’t of been as bad if it was handled slightly better. It goes without saying though that although the outbreak itself probably wasn’t the fault of the IAAF, or the event organisers, it doesn’t really look good on London’s CV for hosting the event again in the near future, despite putting on a tremendous event.

So Close, Yet So Far, So Often

Great Britain, fourth, <yle Langford, Laura Muir, Callum Hawkins, Dina Asher-Smith, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, IAAF, World Athletics Championships, London 2017.
A number of British athletes narrowly missed out on a World Championship medal. Source: BBC.

As many of Great Britain’s athletes will tell you, fourth is the most frustrating and generally worst place to finish an event. This year it was something we had to watch reoccur with gut-wrenching regularity. That’s nothing against the athletes either, I’ve already talked about how much praise I have for them in this article. In fact, many of those who finished fourth or close to the medals were setting personal best’s, but when they’re that close to the medals and just miss out, it hurts. It hurts to watch them upset after having just missed out. Although many of these athletes weren’t likely to medal, with it being a home games many had set getting a medal as their target, as you don’t get many opportunities to get a medal in a home Championships in your career. For some of these athletes it just wasn’t their day, and they didn’t hit the stride they had hoped for.

Seeing them broken-hearted after they’d realised they’d failed to achieve this was awful to have to watch, especially when what they had accomplished was actually a fantastic achievement. For example, Women’s hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon was devastated with failing to win medal after having nabbed a bronze at the Olympics last year, but finished three places above her international rank, so she actually over performed. A lot of these near misses were by young athletes as well, who as I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, have plenty of time to work on their performances and improve their positioning, and have very bright future’s.

The Cold Reception For Gatlin’s Gold.

Justin Gatlin, USA, United States of America, First, Gold, boo's, drugs, cheat, 100m final, Usain Bolt, final race, IAAF, London 2017, World Athletics Championships.
Justin Gatlin’s victory is greeted by large waves of boo’s as he wins the gold medal in Usain Bolt’s final 100m race. Source: Getty.

Talk about a moment being memorable for all the wrong reasons. There is so much to hate here! Pretty much everyone wanted to see Bolt conquer the track one more time, it only seemed right, and would be the most fitting exit for someone who has always seemed so unbeatable, so seeing him beat by someone who is widely regarded as a drug’s cheat was pretty sickening. The sport fan inside all of us was booing him, but really that wasn’t right either.

As far as Gatlin’s concerned, the rules allowed for him to run again, so he’s going to take that opportunity. He shown up, he gave it his best shot and came away with the gold medal. What athlete wouldn’t want to run at a World Championships if they were given the chance? Plus, we’re forgetting that he is a professional athlete. Running is how he makes a living, taking away the chance for him to run again means taking away Gatlin’s chance to provide a better life for his family. You could argue he sacrificed this chance when he took the banned substances, but ultimately this all comes down to the IAAF. Should someone who has twice violated the anti-doping policy be allowed back in the sport? Although Gatlin argues his first suspension was unfair as the substance that got him banned was from medication he had been taking since his youth to treat ADD, you rarely hear him pipe up about his second ban. Bear in mind as well that professional athletes such as Gatlin are surrounded by coaches, trainers and medical staff that know exactly what he is putting in his body, and which substances are banned and which aren’t. You would’ve thought they would be extra careful after he received an initial suspension. Once may be an accident, but twice?

Overall, this isn’t a moment we’re going to look back on too fondly, but even if Gatlin was disqualified Bolt still wouldn’t of won, so this isn’t about him Losing, it was about Gatlin winning. Bolt coming third was disappointing, but he still had another chance to get a gold…

Jamaica’s Hamstring Hell

Usain Bolt, Jamaica, Relay, 4x100m, 4x400m, McLaughlin-Whilby, cramp, London 2017, IAAF, World Athletics Championships.
Bolt pulls up with a hamstring injury as the winners cross the line (source AP/Frank Augstein)

Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be and it certainly wasn’t for Bolt in London this year. If seeing him come up short in the 100m final wasn’t hard enough, in his final race (the men’s 4x100m relay) he pulled up clutching his hamstring and failed to finish the race for the Jamaicans. It shown that he was human, but seeing a legend go out in this way was almost as excruciating to watch as it was for Bolt himself. After the 100m final we wanted him to nab one more win in his final race. The pain for this was quickly numbed for us Brits however as Great Britain would go on to win the race in dramatic fashion. It’s likely that GB would still have won the race regardless of Bolt pulling up, as Jamaica were pretty far behind GB upon Bolt receiving the baton.

Bolt wasn’t the only one to suffer this fate however, as the very next night McLaughlin-Whilby also pulled up with a hamstring injury in the women’s 4x400m final, meaning there was two nights in a row of hamstring heartbreak for the Jamaicans. It’s easy to put two and two together and get five in this situation, but having two similar injuries in similar events would suggest that something to do with the way the Jamaican’s prepared for their races this year wasn’t right. Usain Bolt’s team mate Yohan Blake however blamed the organisers of the event for Bolt’s injury, claiming that they were kept waiting too long for the event after their initial warm up. He said that they had to keep re-warming up to prevent them cooling down too much, which resulted in them being “over warm”. The rest of the Jamaica team echoed his thoughts, and there might be some substance to their claims as well, as the Jamaican team doctor’s confirmed the injury as cramp in the left hamstring.

Either way, it was sad to see the Jamaicans go out of the races in this way, and wasn’t one of the most enjoyable parts of the championships to watch.

 

Overall though, there was a lot more good than bad from London 2017. It was dramatic and exciting, giving is a fantastically entertaining tournament. We seen history made, legends of the past bow out, and potential legends of the future make their mark. Their were some truly memorably moments and overall the tournament will be remembered as a resounding success.

What are your thoughts on the big talking points of London 2017, and what were you favourite and least favourite moments from the tournament? Did we miss it? Let us know in the comments and if you liked our article do us a favour and give us a like and a share, we really appreciate it!

Main Image Source: IAAF.

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