Hastings, teammates hope to close out worlds with 4x400 gold
LONDON (AP) — To start the world championships, Natasha Hastings stood on the podium and received a gold medal.
That was without even racing, when she and her American 4x400-meter teammates from 2013 were upgraded in the wake of the Russian team being stripped of first place because of doping.
To end the competition, Hastings tries to get back to the top step Sunday along with the rest of the 2017 relay team. The 4x400 final is one of 11 on a fast and furious final day. In all, there are six finals for the women and five more in the men’s events. The action goes to the streets with race walks — including the first-ever 50-kilometer women’s event — and ends on the track with the 4x400 relays.
“I’ve been waiting all week to get out here and compete,” Hastings said. “It’s been a long (wait).”
The American 4x400 women’s squad looks to take the world title back from Jamaica. On the flip side, the men’s edition sets out for their 10th gold in the event and seventh straight.
“Winning feels great,” said Tony McQuay, who ran the anchor leg when the Americans posted the fastest qualifying time Saturday. “The crowd and atmosphere were great. Our coaches believe in us and we believe in ourselves.”
A look at the final day of the world championships:
WALK, DON’T RUN: There are only seven competitors entered in the women’s 50K race walk, which makes its world championships debut on a two-kilometer loop between Buckingham Palace and the Admiralty Arch. Of those in the field, three are Americans. Ines Henriques of Portugal is the overwhelming favorite after setting the world record of 4 hours, 8 minutes, 26 seconds, in January.
HIGH HOPES: This is how dominant high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar has been this season: He has the four top marks. “The only color of medal I want is the gold,” said Barshim, a two-time Olympic medalist, including bronze at the 2012 London Games. “So, hopefully I can achieve that.” His top rival figures to be Mateusz Przybylko of Germany.
PERKOVIC RULES: Sandra Perkovic was once elected to Croatia’s Parliament. In her other profession, she rules the discus event. Perkovic won at the London Olympics and repeated in Rio de Janeiro. Safe to say she is the one to watch. “I am ready,” she said.
RACE FOR SECOND?: Forget racing for gold in the women’s 5,000. This seems to be a competition for the silver and bronze, given the way Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia has been lapping the field. She won the 10,000-meter race by more than 46 seconds. Although, Hellen Onsando Obiri of Kenya has a bold plan. “If Ayana goes to the front, I will go with her,” Obiri pledged. “It will be interesting to see how she responds. I would not run it from the back.”
RACE FOR SECOND, PART II?: Good luck catching Olympic champion Caster Semenya of South Africa in the 800 meters. She has already captured bronze in the 1,500 meters this week. “I just want to keep winning,” Semenya said. “That’s all I’m concentrating on.” Semenya had the fastest semifinal time, followed by Ajee Wilson. “I was at home (in the U.S.) when the championships started, so I’ve been seeing all the results and been inspired by my teammates,” Wilson said. “It has definitely motivated me. I want to be challenging for medals as well.”
AIMING FOR TITLE NO. 4: Asbel Kiprop of Kenya moves closer to his fourth 1,500-meter world title. Only world-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco has captured that many in the event. “I’ve been doing this for many years and I’m ready for anything,” Kiprop said.
More AP track coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/London2017