Fred Kerley leads a US medal sweep in the 100m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
Chants of “USA! USA! USA!” rang out across Hayward Field on Saturday night (16) after Fred Kerley led a US sweep of the men’s 100m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Kerley’s decision last year to drop down from the 400m to the 100m paid off in spectacular fashion as he powered past Marvin Bracy-Williams and Trayvon Bromell in the final strides to win the gold in 9.86 and claim the title of the world’s fastest man.
Bracy-Williams and Bromell, who were both timed in 9.88, took silver and bronze respectively.
It marked the third US sweep of the 100m medals and the first since 1991, when Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell and Dennis Mitchell went 1-2-3 at the World Championships in Tokyo.
This time, the sweep came on home soil in front of a full crowd at the first World Championships held in the United States.
“We said we were going to do it and we did it,” the 27-year-old Kerley said after winning his first individual global title. “USA baby!”
“All three of us wanted the gold,” Bromell said. “I’m just happy we could get the sweep at home.”
The build-up to the final featured a flypast by two military jets, which proved to be a symbolic precursor to a super-fast race in which four of the eight athletes finished inside 10 seconds.
Half of the finalists were from the host nation; the fourth US athlete was the defending world champion Christian Coleman, who finished sixth in 10.01.
Kerley was in lane four, with Bracy-Williams next to him in lane three, and Coleman and Bromell on the outside in lanes seven and eight.
Coleman got off to the quickest start, but it was Bracy-Williams who quickly moved to the front and paced the field through 70m and 80m, with Bromell charging hard from the outside.
But the tall, powerful Kerley built up momentum at the halfway mark, accelerated towards the line and edged in front in the final five metres, out-leaning the others at the line.
Kerley waited for the result to be posted on the scoreboard, and when his name finally went up as the winner, he threw up his arms in triumph, pounded his chest and took off on a victory lap.
“The gold medal means more than anything,” he said. “It’s amazing to do it on home soil with the home crowd behind us. It’s a wonderful blessing to get a clean sweep.”
Fourth place went to 21-year-old Jamaican Oblique Seville, who ran 9.97 after clocking the fastest time in the semifinals (9.90). South Africa’s Akani Simbini was fifth in 10.01 – his fifth consecutive top-five finish at a global championships. Rounding out the field were Coleman, Japan’s Hakim Sani Brown (10.06) and Canada’s Aaron Brown (10.07).
After Kerley switched to the short sprints at the start of 2021, many experts scoffed at the decision. But he justified the move by earning the silver medal in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics. And he has been dominant this year, clocking a world-leading 9.76 in the semifinals and 9.77 in the final of the US Championships in Eugene last month.
Kerley ran 9.79 in Friday’s heats but ran only 10.02 in winning his semifinal on Saturday – the first time in nine 100m races this year that he did not break 10 seconds.
But, in the final, Kerley showed the power and determination needed to finally get an individual gold on the world stage. He earned bronze in the 400m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and holds gold and silver from the 4x400m relay.
Kerley will now focus on adding to his tally. He will be getting ready for the heats of the 200m on Monday and for the relay.
“This win means I can do 100m, 200m and 400m,” he said. “I’ve got a medal in 400m and 100m. There’s only one next.”
Winning a medal represented redemption for Bromell, who has battled injuries throughout his career and failed to make the final at the Tokyo Olympics last year after being considered the title favourite.
Bromell broke down in tears on Saturday while being interviewed on the track after the US sweep.
“It’s been seven years since I got a medal through my injuries and everything I dealt with,” he said. I know so many people counted me out.”
And for Bracy-Williams, he was celebrating his first world outdoor medal on the global stage.
“It feels great to get my first medal at home and with an American sweep,” he said. “What else could I ask for? All the hard work has paid off with the injuries, the critics. This shows me I've got what it takes to get it done.”
Some big names failed to make the final.
Italy’s Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs pulled out before the semifinals after failing to fully recover from the hamstring injury that had sidelined him for most of the outdoor season.
“A painful choice, I am forced to stop,” Jacobs tweeted. “I am a fighter and this is why I decided to be in Eugene. Now, in order not to compromise the rest of the season by risking a more serious injury, I have to postpone the challenge. I promise I will do my best to make you dream!”
Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, the 2011 world champion and five-time national champion, missed out after finishing fourth in his semifinal in 10.12. Canada’s Andre De Grasse, the Olympic 200m champion who has struggled with injury and illness this season, was fifth in his semi in 10.21. And African champion Ferdinand Omayala of Kenya, who had made it just in time for Friday’s heats after delays in getting his US visa, was fifth in his semifinal in 10.14.
But this day was about those who came through when it counted, and it was Kerley, Bracy-Williams and Bromell who showed the world that US athletes are the king of the sprints once again.
Steve Wilson for World Athletics
|MEN'S 100M MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Fred Kerley 🇺🇸 USA||9.86|
|🥈||Marvin Bracy-Williams 🇺🇸 USA||9.88|
|🥉||Trayvon Bromell 🇺🇸 USA||9.88|