Kenya and South Africa Finish Strong at the IAAF World Championships
South African athletes started off very strong in the track events with Olympic star Wayde Van Niekerk taking gold and silver in the 400 and 200 meters events; this sprinter pulled off a great performance despite being quarantined in the Tower Hotel during a norovirus outbreak. South Africa finished the IAAF Championships with six overall medals. Another African nation that ranked on the medal table was Ethiopia with two gold and three silver awards.
The Championships also marked the end of an athletic era as Jamaican track star Usain Bolt retired without earning gold. With the world accustomed to seeing Bolt breeze past opponents as he smiled for the camera, his subpar performance and hamstring injury in the 4×100 meters relay event was shocking. Bolt was often compared to the legendary African American boxer Muhammad Ali in terms of dominance and charisma; when the Jamaican speedster lost the 100 meters event in London, a friend reminded him that even the great Ali lost his final fight. Bolt took a lap of honor and knelt down as the crowd applauded his career; he is expected to become an IAAF leader and athletics ambassador in the near future. It is important to note that Bolt’s legacy is already being felt as more Caribbean athletes are catching up to their American and African counterparts.
The most exciting event on Sunday night was the women’s 4×400 meters relay race, which came down to Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and the United States. In a situation similar to Bolt’s, Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby suffered an injury and the Jamaican team was not able to finish. Although the American women were the favorites to take gold in this event, the team from Trinidad came ahead in an electrifying finish.
The next IAAF World Championships will be held in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.