Korir, Pichardo add world titles to Olympic crowns
Two other gold medalists from last year’s Tokyo Games had a mixed bag, Indian Neeraj Chopra having to content himself with silver in the men’s javelin, but Dutch runner Sifan Hassan leaving Eugene medalless after finishing sixth in the women’s 5,000m.
The 4x100m relays saw the U.S. women beat a loaded Jamaican team featuring individual sprint champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, to win gold, but a Canada team anchored by Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse beat the favored U.S. men’s team into silver.
“It felt great to do it, to spoil the party for them,” said De Grasse, who contracted COVID-19 three weeks before the championships and was too fatigued to race the 200m.
“We talked about this moment so many times. We came up a little bit short at the Olympics, and we were all like, we could do better...it’s a good way to end the championship.”
Korir produced a trademark kick from 200 meters out to win the men’s 800m in 1min 43.71sec, well ahead of Algerian Djamel Sedjati with silver and Canada’s Marco Arop bronze.
“I knew there were some guys close behind me in the last 100m,” Korir said.
“I was expecting someone to come, but no one did. I never shake my end in training but I do in races. It’s like magic. I have been working for this. It’s been a long wait, I failed in 2017 and 2019 and I made it now.”
Pichardo was imperious in the triple jump, all but tying up competition when he went out to 17.95 meters on his first attempt.
“I opened strongly,” the Cuban-born Pichardo said, adding that he had been mentally focused on the mythical 18-meter mark in a bid to better his two previous silvers.
“My mindset was focused on 18m. It did not come out today, but more importantly, I won gold. This world title was elusive to me.”
In the absence of American multiple global medal winner Christian Taylor, world and Olympic bronze medalist Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso claimed silver 40cm off Pichardo, while China’s Zhu Yaming took bronze.
There was also no mercy shown in the women’s 5000m, where Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay surged down the home straight to win in 14:46.29 ahead of Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet and another Ethiopian, Dawit Seyaum.
Olympic champion Hassan could only finish sixth, meaning she will depart Oregon not having made the podium in either the 5,000 or 10,000m.
Hassan produced a stunning 1,500m-10,000m double at the 2019 world championships in Doha before winning 5,000m and 10,000m gold and 1,500m bronze at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
But she admitted that she needed seven months out of competition after her exertions, both mental and physical.
“I really overworked last year so I wanted to get a break for my mental part because athletics is not only about running but also about motivation,” she said.
“It is so hard to get motivated again.”