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Report01 Mar 2024

Crouser completes shot put title collection on thrilling first day in Glasgow


Ryan Crouser celebrates his world indoor title win in front of fans in Glasgow (© Dan Vernon)

Ryan Crouser, world and Olympic shot put champion, completed his title collection in crushing fashion at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 with a championship record of 22.77m.

During a thrilling first evening session in the Glasgow Arena on Friday (1), Crouser was one of four winners - Christian Coleman winning a 60m battle, Nicola Olyslagers prevailing in the high jump and Noor Vidts retaining the pentathlon title.

Silver two years ago in Belgrade was the closest Crouser had managed to get to a world indoor title until a session in which he demonstrated his unique and virtually unassailable talent.

While Crouser had never stood atop the podium at this event before, it had happened twice, in 2016 and 2018, for New Zealand’s Tom Walsh.

And he raised flickering hopes of a third world indoor title on his 32nd birthday as he produced a first-round effort of 22.07m.

But that flickering candle was snuffed out pronto by the irresistible power of Crouser, whose own first throw of 22.36m established him in a lead he never looked faintly likely to lose.

By the close he had produced four throws beyond anything his rivals could come up with. The longest of them, a fifth round of 22.77m, was a championship record.

Walsh got a present of sorts, however, as his opener turned out to be good enough for silver, with Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri taking bronze with 21.96m.

In the last action of the evening, Coleman did the thing he does best to beat his fellow US sprinter Noah Lyles, the world 100m and 200m champion, and reclaim the 60m title he last won in 2018.

Coleman did it all from A to Z – or rather, given the brevity of this event, from A to B – to win in 6.41, the fastest time run this season, with Lyles – essentially a 200m runner who has come down the distances – having to settle for an honourable silver in 6.44.

In truth, the final on the newly-laid track in the Glasgow Arena was won in the opening second as the former champion got a near-perfect bullet start. Lyles, who got out pretty well himself, floated on as he does, but even he could not make up the gap by the time the line reared up.

The race confirmed the impression created by the semifinals earlier in the evening, when Coleman, intense and concentrated, won in an ominously assured 6.43, equalling the world-leading time run by Lyles in beating him to the US indoor title. It looked like there was more to come – and there was.

Coleman, who ran a world record of 6.34 in 2018, when he won his first world indoor title, finished the night by producing the same time he had clocked in the last World Indoor Championships in Belgrade two years earlier, although on that occasion he was beaten to gold by Italy’s Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs.

Now he has reclaimed bragging rights in his familiar territory and raised hopes for the Olympic 100m, a distance at which he won the outdoor world title in 2019.

Lyles, meanwhile, contented himself with a hugely encouraging day’s work which had seen him progress from 6.57 to 6.47 to 6.44. Not bad for a non-specialist.

Bronze went to Jamaica’s Ackeem Blake in 6.46, with Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala fourth in 6.56.

Belgium’s Vidts became the first athlete to retain a global pentathlon title as she finished a day of solid, organised effort to see off the challenge of Finland’s 20-year-old Saga Vanninen.

World indoor pentathlon champion Noor Vidts

World indoor pentathlon champion Noor Vidts (© Getty Images)

Third place in the concluding 800m in 2:12.99 enabled her to extend a nine-point lead to 96 as Vanninen, whose best was 12 seconds slower than hers, came home eighth, albeit in a personal record of 2:20.54.

The most impressive performer at the close, however, was Sofie Dokter of the Netherlands, who took four seconds off her personal best to secure bronze medal with a winning time of 2:11.89.

The pentathlon had resumed with Finland’s two-time world U20 champion holding a 38-point lead over her Belgian rival thanks to a best effort of 15.01m in the morning’s concluding shot put.

The expectation was that Vidts would make her superior marks in the long jump tell to tip herself back into the lead. That came to pass – but not without a mighty struggle.

Vidts established herself with a second-round effort of 6.40m, with the Finn fouling out on her second effort. But Vanninen responded with a season’s best of 6.41m that moved her back into the lead.

Under real pressure, Vidts moved back into first place with a season’s best of 6.50m. Heading into the concluding 800m the lead was just nine points… but it proved enough.

Australia’s Olyslagers provided a dramatic finale in the women’s high jump final as a clearance of 1.99m at her third attempt flipped her from silver to gold medal position over the defending champion, Yaroslava Mahuchikh.

The 22-year-old Ukrainian, who won the world outdoor title last summer, had one final attempt to regain the lead she had held on countback by clearing a height that was five centimetres below her startling season-opener in Cottbus.

Uncharacteristically she was unable to rise to the challenge and the joyful Australian – silver medallist ahead of Mahuchikh at the Tokyo Olympics and world bronze medallist in Budapest – exuded pure joy.

Olyslagers had begun the season with almost the same elan as her Ukrainian rival with a clearance of 2.03m, and having secured a first global gold she had three unsuccessful attempts at 2.02m.

Bronze went to Slovenia’s Lia Apostolovski on 1.95m, by countback over Germany’s Christina Honsel.

Karsten Warholm, racing in the arena where he had won European indoor gold five years earlier, reached Saturday’s 400m final with a composed semifinal victory under pressure from Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald, clocking the second fastest qualifying time of 45.86.

Norway’s world and Olympic 400m hurdles champion and world record-holder will fancy his chances of earning gold from his late decision to make Glasgow the first competitive stop of his year.

But he will be challenged by Alexander Doom of Belgium, who won the other semifinal in a personal best of 45.69. Portugal’s Joao Coelho was third fastest in a personal best 45.98.

Femke Bol, who lowered her own women’s 400m indoor world record to 49.24 earlier this year, was – almost inevitably – fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s final as she cruised home in her semifinal in 50.66, although Alexis Holmes of the United States did very well to stay close to her in 50.99.

Bol’s training partner Lieke Klaver was third fastest, a winner of the first semifinal in 51.18.

Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia arrived in Glasgow seeking to become the first athlete to win three consecutive world indoor 1500m titles. But while he reached Sunday’s final it was only after finishing a ragged third in an opening heat won by Cole Hocker of the United States in 3:39.32.

Vincent Keter of Kenya was fastest qualifier in 3:38.96, with Hobbs Kessler of the United States second in 3:39.07, but Norway’s world bronze medallist Narve Nordas looked like a potent force in winning his heat with ease in 3:42.09.

Otherwise the 1500m men’s heats proved attractional to home hopes as Adam Fogg, who recently ran a personal best of 3:34.37 in New York, was tripped a few strides into his race and Callum Elson was spiked to a painful standstill in his later heat. Fogg was restored to Sunday’s final on appeal but the unfortunate Elson had to leave the arena in a wheelchair.

Nikki Hiltz of the United States was top qualifier in the women’s 1500m in a personal best of 4:04.34, but two of the three favoured Ethiopian challengers won their heats with ease – World Athletics Indoor Tour winner Freweyni Hailu, silver medallist in Belgrade two years ago, and world mile champion Diribe Welteji.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics

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