Michelle's Verdict: There won't be the 'Next Usain Bolt', but Doha 2019 has its own heroes


The 2019 World Athletics Championships have been bouncing between positive and negative headlines at the rate of an Olympic table-tennis match.

One minute we're celebrating heroes like Dina Asher-Smith and Mutaz Essa Barshim and the next we're reminded of the blistering heat and shadowy doping allegations.

And in part three of Michelle Griffith-Robinson's analysis for GIVEMESPORT, we honed in on all the controversies surrounding the competition as well as the positives that have shone through it.

From the empty seats that blighted last weekend; the doubts surrounding Qatar's suitability and the untimely news of Alberto Salazar's ban, we haven't ducked nor dove from some of the biggest talking points.

However, Griffith-Robinson isn't alone in thinking that the athletics has triumphed over it all and that Doha 2019 will be remembered for the competitors themselves, not the circus that follows them.

How have you found Doha 2019 in general?

Michelle: It's been a world stage where there's been some wonderful performances. We've had some notable world records as well with Dalilah Muhammad and from a British perspective, there were two national records from Dina Asher-Smith and one from Katarina Johnson-Thompson. We had Barshim come over, who suffered a really bad injury earlier on and come through surgery to perform on the world stage. It's been an incredible championships so far.


 What did you think of the decision to name Doha as hosts?

Michelle: Yes, everyone was skeptical, but we have to go back to the history and Qatar isn't really a nation that's into sport so to speak. It's certainly not into athletics. Last weekend was very desperate, there was a lot of negative thoughts about it all and it's a shame for Dina. But like I've always tried to say, let's try not to focus on the negatives, let's focus on the positives.

We've seen an amazing competition. It didn't matter how many people were in the stands for Dina, because as far as Dina is concerned, she came here ready to perform. Yes, it would have been nice for there to be tens of thousands of people there, but that's life and she came and did the job. 

Friday was going to be different because they had the homegrown Barshim coming to compete, who the Qataris love, and they also like middle-distance events which we've noticed as well. Would we do things differently? Of course we would do things differently, but hindsight is a great thing.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Four

Is it actually a positive that some local Qataris have been admitted for free?

Michelle: Absolutely, yes. It's good to encourage young people and the legacy that leaves from all of these championships, whether that's here or Eugene in two years time, is to keep inspiring people to do sport and keep active. So, if you have to give out some tickets for free, especially in a country like this, then it's great and it could whet the appetite of some of the young people coming through to try athletics. In that respects, it's definitely a positive and not a negative.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Eight

How untimely was the news of Alberto Salazar's ban?

Michelle: I've tried to stay away from that. I know a little bit about it, but not enough to really make a comment. I've only heard it mentioned once, which is a good thing and I've been sat in the stands with lots of people. For people that come and love athletics, I don't think that's really been a big issue and a big talking point.

I think we should leave those topics that are out of our control until after the athletics. It's not for us to deal with, it's for the IAAF to deal with and the respective governing bodies. It's not for myself or the general public, who simply love athletics.

2015 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships - Day 1

How important is it for athletics to have so many big personalties?

Michelle: It's great. It keeps regenerating some superstars and let's keep that going. You see Karsten Warholm and you see Salwa Eid Naser the other day, we want to see these stars coming through! We want to give hope. There's not going to be the 'Next Usain Bolt', because Usain Bolt was a massive talent and a massive personality, but it's good see - in other events too - people coming through and creating a scene of positivity in athletics.


And what was your reaction to Dalilah Muhammad's world record?

Michelle: She came again and broke her own world record that was previously set in July. Just think to yourself: we saw another top performance, a world record from herself, and Sydney McLaughlin came as well and nearly broke the previous world record. It's brilliant, it's been brilliant. It's been something that I could only have imagined of coming to and seeing.

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