Five things we learned on Athletics World Championships day 4 – hedgehogs, hurdles, gender debates


  • Hero worship goes on

No, not talking about Usain Bolt. But rather Hero the hedgehog, the games’ mascot. Hero was out and about in the stadium doing what Hero does best. Mischief-making. He had a mock snooze on the table which had been used during the women’s hammer competition. And after joking with the judge at the table, off Hero headed for the crowd. Hero’s best one so far? When he kneeled at the feet of Bolt on day two. The great man took off his spikes and Hero waved his hand in front of his nose a couple of times. Bolt clipped him round the ear. Whiff of genius.

  • Nasty business this hurdling

In the first heat of the men’s 400m hurdles Victor Coroller clipped a barrier tumbled over and was effectively out. He picked himself up and the spectators gave him a roar as the plucky Frenchman finished in 55.69 seconds. Kerron Clement from the United States won the heat in 48.35 to advance to the final on day six. An even worse fate befell Marcio Teles from Brazil. He seemed to crash into a hurdle and lay crumpled and motionless on the track. It took a troublingly long time before some aid came his way. Some stewards eventually arrived and the 23-year-old was helped to his feet and ushered off.

  • Hurdle over

Jamaica got its first gold of the games thanks to Omar McLeod. The 23-year-old won the 110m hurdles and promptly dedicated the victory to Usain Bolt. McLeod, who pipped the defending champion Sergey Shubenkov at the line, said the Jamaica camp had been down since Bolt failed to win gold. No surprise there. Since 2009 they’ve always known that at least one gold is in the bag.

  • Dipping and diving

Tori Bowie flung herself forward at the line to win the gold in the women’s 100m final. Caster Semenya was in the same zone in the women’s 1500m final. “If you want a medal you need to dip,” she told the daily review. “I can’t call it a dive because I didn’t dive. I dipped. But obviously if you don’t have your balance you will fall …” Well, that’s that explained. Semenya claimed the bronze in 4:02.90. The local girl Laura Muir finished fourth in 4:02.97. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon from Kenya won gold and the American Jennifer Simpson got the silver.

  • Live and let live

Ever since she won her gold in the 800m in Berlin in 2009, Caster Semenya has been a controversial figure. The questions and debates have arisen about gender. Following the bronze medal in the women’s 1500m, Semenya was asked about plans to change rules on naturally occurring testosterone in female athletes. “Those are the things, the issues, that I don’t focus on. It’s not my business. It’s their business,” she said. “Those are the writings that I’ve being seeing since 2009.” Athletics governing body, the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency funded a study that showed female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone enjoy a competitive advantage of up to 4.5 percent over their rivals. The 26-year-old South African has won two Olympic golds over 800m and also two golds at the world championships in the distance. She was one of several women taking medication to lower her testosterone level until 2015 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended an IAAF rule that enforced a limit on naturally occurring levels. “Sometimes, you get annoyed or you get bored,” she said of the saga. She came across as bored.

To read our coverage of the 2017 Athletics World Championships click here

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