Doha 2019: Karsten Warholm retains 400m hurdles title on brilliant evening in Qatar

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Tonight was the night that Doha 2019 needed.

There were life signs after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Dina Asher-Smith's duel on Sunday night, but it's taken a Viking warrior to truly bludgeon the Khalifa International Stadium awake.

The men's 400-metre hurdles had long been highlighted as one of the standout events at the championships and Karsten Warholm rose to the ocassion by retaining his World crown.

The Norwegian attacked the hurdles as if they'd insulted his family and while Kevin Young's world record lives to die another day, the incumbent world champion left absolutely everything on the track.

Warholm had recently ascended the all-time rankings with his breath-taking 42.92-second run at the Zurich Diamond League final, edging out Rai Benjamin who also dipped under 47 seconds.

Warholm retains his World title

The American once again settled for second place, clocking 47.66 seconds, while his Scandinavian conquerer turned to see 47.44 illuminate the Seiko clock.

"That is what defines champions: you're ready to handle the pressure," the Norwegian said with the nod of his head. "Today, I'm the world champion again, so at least I did something right.

"It was a painful race and I was ready to dig deep, so I dug very deep. I'm happy and winning was the only thing in my mind. 

"I was standing here as the defending champion, so it's all a process and I needed that first gold, but the next one is the best one. This one is feeling even better because I managed to handle the pressure."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Samba brings Doha to life

Warholm is exactly what athletics needs. Even in the blocks, seconds before one of the biggest races of his life, the 23-year-old was playing the showman and beating his chest with passion.

There was even an atmosphere to compliment it and, yes, that sadly is note-worthy.

The presence of a home athlete in Abderrahman Samba enlivened the pre-race lights show that has become commonplace, but has been crying out for a supporting act.

It's also the reason why the stadium was looking fuller than ever and it wasn't just the partisan corner of African fans that were driving the ambience.

Samba claimed a bronze medal for his efforts and hopefully this first taste of Qatari success will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the championships.

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

Edris wins thrilling 5,000m final

Another bonus? The crowd had been riding the wave of a stunning night of athletics long before the closer and where better to start than with the men's 5,000 metres?

Athletics fans have become fascinated with the Ingebrigsten brothers in recent years and with THREE siblings in the final, they were keen to lay down a challenge for the East Africans.

In the end, Jakob led the charge for the Europeans and it looked for a moment that the gold could have been in his hands, only for him to spectacularly implode down the home straight.

And as he faded away to fifth place, eventually diving across the line in evident exhaustion, Ethiopia's Muktar Edris picked his pocket and dashed home to retain the title he won in London.

On that occasion two years ago, it was Sir Mo Farah who succumbed to Edris and - either out of humour or spite - the double-champion even slipped a 'Mobot' into his celebrations.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Lasitskene and Mahuchikh's superb duel

In the women's high jump, it will come as little surprise that Mariya Lasitskene sailed above the competition and she progressed all the way to 2.08 metres without a single failure.

The Russian made three attempts just one centimetre below the world record, eventually proving unsuccessful, but had the stadium on tenterhooks with her apparent ability to take flight.

However, the breakout performance came from Yaroslava Mahuchikh as she secured a silver medal for Ukraine and casually broke two consecutive world junior records en route.

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

Chepkoech obliterates steeplechase field

Another driving force behind the improved atmosphere was the glut of African talent on display and Beatrice Chepkoech put on a steeplechasing clinic for all the Kenyans that made the trip.

The world-record holder didn't just dethrone Emma Coburn, but she dismantled the American's palace brick by brick, running a superb 8:57.84 to better the championship record.

Coburn did secure a silver medal and personal best for her admirable efforts, while Gesa Felicitas Krause collected the bronze from a main group chasing shadows.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Nakaayi inherits Semenya's title

Shortly after, one of the most unpredictable events in the women's 800m came to the fore, no less because Caster Semenya was barred from competing unless she took hormone-suppressing drugs.

In the absence of the South African, who has now turned to football, both Ajee Wilson and Raeyvn Rogers fell narrowly short of becoming the first Americans to win gold over two laps.

Just in case the African contingent couldn't be stirred up anymore, it was Uganda's Halimah Nakaayi that came lashing down the home straight to post a national record of 1:58.04.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Lyles and Gemili progress in 200m

The men's 200 metres is now only 24 hours away and Noah Lyles slowly dialled up his speed in the semi-finals, essentially teasing the Qatar crowd with a 19.86-second clocking.

Adam Gemili also impressed by winning his semi-final, claiming the scalp of world champion Ramil Gulyiev for the second time in as many days and exorcising the demons of the 100m.

"I feel good. I feel confident," the British champion reflected. "I just wanted to go out there and put in a bit more effort than yesterday. I am still not firing 100 per cent but I am getting there.

"I wanted to win that semi and get a good lane for the final. I’ve been saying it for years, once you get in the final anything can happen. It’s a clean slate and people can make mistakes."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Nielsen cites Asher-Smith inspiration

There was also safe progression for Britain's pair of quarter-milers as Laviai Nielsen and Emily Diamond, the latter of which in sketchier fashion than the former, moved on to the semi-finals.

And while Nielsen gave a mixed review of her performance, she was keen to highlight the impact that Asher-Smith's silver medal has had on the British squad as a whole.

"It was amazing, you could feel the shift in the hotel," Nielsen revealed to GIVEMESPORT. "Everyone was up on their toes, screaming and cheering. It was such an amazing thing to see.

"For her to get a world medal at my age of 23, it's amazing to see such an inspiration and it definitely gave him some extra inspiration for me today going into my heat."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

The best day yet? Damn right

Meanwhile, there was Chinese success in the qualifying rounds of the javelin as Shiying Liu and Huihui Lyu led their groups with throws of 63.48 and 67.27 metres respectively.

And the men's discus gold medal went to Sweden's Daniel Stahl who, fresh from his winning 67.59-metre throw, thrilled the crowd by celebrating with a sprint down the back straight.

Finally, finally, finally. A cocktail of Samba's brilliance in the Qatari jersey and so many African athletes shining in the distance events injected some soul into Doha 2019 at long last. 

The athletes have been doing their part all weekend and Monday was the first time they've had the atmosphere to match it. 

And who better to send Doha 2019 kicking and screaming through the hurdles it’s faced than the piston-like legs and warrior-like spirit of Warholm, a man who clears obstacles for fun?

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