Doha 2019: Great Britain's Lynsey Sharp suffers shock elimination in 800m heats

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

The 17th IAAF World Championships quietly came to life on Friday afternoon.

While anticipation for Doha 2019 had reached Hitchcockian levels in the sphere of athletics, the championships seemed to bleed into the mainstream for controversial as opposed to sporting reasons.

With no opening day finals in the Khalifa International Stadium, fears about the Qatari heat and hosting selection, which have hummed away for months, seemed to hog the column inches.

That's not to downplay those worries, however, with images of the sparsely-populated arena leaving many people wondering: why are we here?

The upper tiers of the stadium have already been dressed - or disguised, depending on how harsh you're feeling - in banners and it's reported that locals will be admitted for free to boost attendances.

Mixed day for British athletes

Moreover, day one's only final - the women's marathon - brought legitimate concerns about the athletes' health with temperatures bubbling around 35 degrees all night. More on that later.

Anyhow, to the action on the track and it was a difficult opening day for the British team.

While it would be naive to expect the Union Jack behind every other medal ceremony, a slew of Brits starting their World Championship campaigns were swiftly eliminated. 

Morgan Lake's trying 2019 was compounded with an exit from the high jump heats at 1.89 metres, while Aimee Pratt, Rosie Clarke and Elizabeth Bird were all dumped out of the steeplechase.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

Ben Williams out of the triple jump

There was also disappointment for Ben Williams who fell short of the top 12 in the triple jump heats, but still has plenty of positives to take from a year that threatened to feature retirement.

"It just didn’t click today. I felt alright going into it," Williams reflected. "There are no real excuses, I just wasn’t executing right. It has been mentally draining this year.

"Maybe there was something wrong with my preparation going in but I felt great at the holding camp and I felt great in warm up."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

Shock exit for Lynsey Sharp

However, the biggest loss to Britain's medal hopes came in the form of Lynsey Sharp, who finished in the same position in her heat that she held in the pre-competition world rankings.

Eventually placing in fourth, the 29-year-old couldn't do enough to reel in Renelle Lamote and her pursuers despite looking finely poised coming down the home straight.

Her time of 2:03.57 was insufficient for her to match Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Alexandra Bell's progression to the semi-finals.

Similarly, there was a devastating result for Andrew Butchard, although it came in arguably harsher circumstances when he was dropped, included and then dropped again from the 5,000m final.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen was originally disqualified in the heats, briefly propping Butchard into Monday's showdown, but the Norwegian's steps beyond the rails were later deemed as offering no advantage.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

Chaos in the marathon

Sadly, just as expected, the Qatari heat truly took its toll in the women's marathon. 

With the temperature simmering away at 32C and humidity summiting 70%, over one third of the field pulled out including Britain's Charlotte Purdue and the entire Ethiopian team.

Marathon coach Haji Adillo Roba told the BBC during the race: "We never would have run a marathon in these conditions in our own country. I'll be interested to see how many finish."

Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich came out on top over the 40 runners that finished, clocking a time of 2:32.43 to be crowned the first world champion of the competition.

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

The 100m comes to life

Elsewhere, athletic's blue riband event - the 100 metres - was also on display in Doha and Christian Coleman threw down the gauntlet by qualifying fastest in 9.98 seconds.

But there was just no stopping the British triumvirate of Adam Gemili, Ojie Edoburun and Zharnel Hughes who secured semi-final places amongst some of the sport's best.

Saturday evening will mark the first World 100m final without a certain Usain Bolt since 2007, depending on how you define Daegu, so the potential reward is inarticulable.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

Holly Bradshaw in pole vault contention

But you could easily argue that the women's pole vault will be more unpredictable and Holly Bradshaw has kept British hopes alive by qualifying for the final all in one clearance.

The 27-year-old explained afterwards: "That was always plan A – we decided to open at the auto qualification height. I’ve done it a couple of times in training and I felt really good for it, so I went for it and it went really well.

"I usually open at a 4.50/4.55 in a qualification anyway so I had to wait maybe an extra 10-15 minutes. I’m ready for the final now."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

A slow-burning opening day

Meanwhile, Juan Miguel Echevarria leapt to the farthest long jump qualifying distance since 1999 and it's now within the Cuban's hands to depose reigning champion Luvo Manyonga.

The three main contenders in the men's 400m hurdles all qualified, Deanna Price led the way in the women's hammer throw and Beatrice Chepkoech posted the fastest steeplechase time.

And we'd be remiss not mention the remarkable moment of sportsmanship when Suncar Dabo helped Jonathan Busby over the line during the 5,000m.

So, we're finally underway. As a curtain-raiser, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the overwhelming heat and empty seats have clouded what was a quietly exciting opening day.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day One

Doha might not be the athletics crazy city attracting 60,000 fans that London was, but there's still plenty of time for the competitors themselves to make Qatar's year a memorable one.

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