American athletes come through at track championships

Sports Focus

In a time when there is much discontent politically in this country and the threat of a war looming with North Korea, it was gratifying that someone like me, who is nearing an 80th birthday, could sit down to watch Americans compete with other world athletes in track and field and completely enjoy the moment.

Once again, the USA came through in the IAAF Track and Field World Championships in London and won more medals than any other country.

Americans dominated the competition and garnered 30 medals, 10 of them gold. In all my years, I can’t recall a more exciting track meet.

Even the invincible Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who had been unbeaten for many years in sprint events, finally showed a niche in his armor and was beaten in the 100 meters, by an American no less. Justin Gatlin finally caught him at the finish and handed Bolt his first defeat in a world championship.

Not only did Gatlin finish ahead of Bolt, but another American, a newcomer named Christian Coleman, finished second.

These championships produced more upsets than any other track competition in history. Some of the biggest surprises came in the women’s 3,000 steeplechase where Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs of the USA came from behind to nip a large group of favored runners and won gold and silver. In the 400, it was Phyllis Francis of the USA who came from behind to nip both a favored runner from Jamaica and fellow American Allyson Felix to win the gold. The track commentators called it a major upset.

Even though Felix failed to win the 400, this was a very gratifying competition for her considering it may have been her last. In addition to her bronze medal in the 400, she ran legs in both the women’s sprint and mile relays and helped them win gold in both events. In the final event for women, the 4×400 relay, the race was a tossup until Felix, who ran the third leg, ran away from the field and gave her teammate anchor a big lead. The three medals for Felix gave her 16 for her career and made her the most decorated track athlete. Bolt, who also ran in his final meet, finished his career with 14 medals.

There was some disappointment for the U.S. men who were favored in both relay events but finished second in both. One of the biggest surprises was in the final 400 relay where the British runners came from behind to nip the USA at the wire. The win by the host Brits brought a huge roar from the 60,000 mostly British fans in the stands. The Americans were gracious in defeat and congratulated the British runners at the finish line.

The Americans didn’t win every race, and it showed that the USA knows how to lose too.

In a way I was glad the competition came to an end. By Sunday, tension was rising at my house when I realized my wife was a bit miffed at me for taking over the television and keeping her from her favorite novela shows.

Thank goodness everything is back to normal.

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