The American men swept the medals in the 100 meters at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday night.
Fred Kerley was the gold medalist, out-leaning Marvin Bracy. Kerley’s time was 9.86 seconds and Bracey’s 9.88 seconds. The bronze medalist was Trayvon Bromell in 9.88 seconds (officials went to thousandths of a second to decide second and third; Bracy clocked 9.874 to 9.876 for Bromell).
There were three gold medals awarded in the evening session Saturday, and Americans got two of them: Chase Ealey won women’s shot put just before the showdown in the 100.
A 27-year-old Texan, a few years ago it looked like Kerley’s glory would come in the 400 meters — he was NCAA indoor and outdoor champion at the distance in 2017 as well as World bronze medalist in 2019. But leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, I have dropped down to the 200 and 100 meter races.
Others thought it was crazy, but Kerley knew what he was doing: following a silver medal in the 100 in Tokyo, he sprinted to a 9.76 at the US Championships last month that makes him one of the eight fastest men in history, and now he have Worlds gold.
Bracy, a 28-year-old from Florida, burst onto the world scene in 2014 when he won silver at the World Indoor Championships in the 60 meters. But though he did make the US team for the 2016 Olympics, international success eluded him for years. Bracy won the bronze in the 60m at this year’s Indoor Worlds, then put together three great rounds in the 100m, getting faster in each.
The 27-year-old Bromell, also a Floridian, bounced back from a highly disappointing showing last year at the Olympics: he came into Tokyo as the fastest man in the world but did not even make the finals. The World bronze medalist in the 100m in 2015, Bromell ruptured his Achilles running the 4×100 meter relay at the 2016 Games, and it took years and several surgeries before he was able to get back to full health and speed.
It was the third time in Worlds history a country has swept the men’s 100 — the United States also won all three medals in the 1991 and 1983 World Championships.
The US had four men in the finals, as 2019 World champ Christian Coleman made it as well. But Coleman, who had to serve an 18-month suspension for repeatedly missing scheduled drug tests, got a good start but could not maintain it, and his form of him seemed to fall apart over the last 15 meters or so. I have finished sixth in 10.01 seconds.
After a stretch that saw Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake win the event from 2009-2015, an American has now won Worlds gold three straight times, with Justin Gatlin winning in 2017, Coleman in 2019 and now Kerley.
Italy’s Marcel Jacobs, the surprise gold medalist in the event at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, pulled out of the semifinals and did not race. He had looked stiff and like he was working on Friday night in the preliminary round. Jacobs had been dealing with an injury this season.
Ealey won the women’s shot put in spectacular fashion: she had the first throw of the first round of the finals and put everyone on notice, throwing 20.49 meters (67 feet, 2.75 inches), just two centimeters shy of her lifetime best.
That throw held up through six rounds, and she became World Champion. Ealey is the first American woman to win gold at Worlds in the event.
China’s Gong Lijiao, the two-time defending World champion who has had a quiet season, got better with every round but fell short of overtaking Ealey; she won the silver medal at 20.39 meters. Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands was the bronze medalist (19.77 meters).
The 27-year-old Ealey has been consistently excellent this season — she won the silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in March, and has won every outdoor competition she’s contested, including her lifetime best of 20.51 meters at the US Championships last month.
The third gold of the session was in men’s long jump, won by China’s Wang Jianan (8.36 meters or 27 feet, 5.1 inches). In Saturday’s afternoon session, Poland’s Pawel Fajdek won men’s hammer throw (81.98 meters or 268 feet, 11.5 inches) and Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey won the women’s 10,000 meters in 30:09.94.
Finals on Sunday include the men’s marathon, men’s 10,000 meters, women’s hammer throw, women’s pole vault, men’s shot put, men’s 110 meter hurdles and women’s 100 meters.