Ireland's Wright struggles to reel in pace setters at World Athletics Champions

Ireland's Wright struggles to reel in pace setters at World Athletics Champions

Ireland’s Alex Wright has finished down the field in 31st in the men’s 20k walk at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

The Cork-based Leevale AC athlete, who finished tenth after having a major tilt at the medals in last year’s European Championships in Berlin, found it difficult to reel in the pace-setters on another sultry night in the Qatari capital.

Wright started conservatively as usual, lying 35th at the four-kilometre mark, and had risen to 28th by 7k – but that was as good as it would get.

After picking up his lone red card of the race, Wright had slipped back to 36th at halfway, two minutes off the lead, but had rallied to 34th with 5k remaining. At the front, the lead only changed hands a minimal amount.

Britain’s Callum Wilkinson hit the front six kilometres in, but would be rapidly overtaken by China’s Asian Games champion Wang Kaihua.

Wang only held on for two kilometres before being overhauled by former world youths (U18) champion Toshikazu Yamanishi of Japan. It was a winning move.

Yamanishi never looked in major distress despite the usual late-night Doha heat, enjoying a 15-second winning margin over neutral Russian athlete Vasiliy Mizinov in silver, with long-time second-placer Perseus Karlström of Sweden third.

The Japanese walker clocked 1 hour 26 minutes 34 seconds for his gold-medal performance – eight minutes slower than Eider Arévalo’s winning time from London two years ago, and the slowest evr winning time since the World Championships began in 1983.

Wright’s time in 31st was 1:37:33, commenting afterwards: “It was difficult. I approached the race conservatively.

I went off very easy right at the back, and it didn’t happen. I struggled. Struggled taking the drinks, taking the ice – it was just a struggle.

The largest crowd of the week at the Khalifa Stadium caught an astonishing breaking of her own 400m hurdles world record by Dalilah Muhammad of the United States, and a massive home success in the men’s high by Mutaz Essa Barshim.

Muhammad rocketed to an astonishing 52.16 seconds, holding off a determined late challenge from her gaining team-mate Sydney McLaughlin, taking 0.04 off her outgoing mark from the previous record set in Des Moines in July.

McLaughlin ran a PB in second with 52.23, Rushell Clayton of Jamaica was third in a new best of 53.74, with a new Swiss national record elevating Lea Sprunger to fourth in 54.06.

Barshim’s high jump triumph lifted the roof off the Khalifa Stadium, the defending champion from London 2017 being the only jumper to clear a world lead 2.37 metres.

Neutral pair Mikhail Akimenko and Ilya Ivanyuk had to be content with silver and bronze after three misses at the same height – both had cleared 2.35m.

A margin of one-hundredth of a second saw Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto successfully defend his 3000m steeplechase world title, overtaking 18-year-old Ethiopian Lamecha Girma at the death.

Kipruto’s 8:01.35 was a world lead, with Girma still managing a new Ethiopian record with his 8:01.36 – but it still wasn’t enough to deny a seventh straight Kenyan success in this event at the Worlds.

After having to self-fund his journey to Doha, Steven Gardiner claimed the men’s 400m crown with a new Bahamian record of 43.48 seconds, making him the sixth-fastest athlete of all-time over the distance, with the eighth-fastest performance ever.

Not even a new South American record 44.15 from Colombia’s Anthony Zambrano in second could deny him.

Cuba enjoyed double glory in the women’s discus, as Yaimé Perez held off team-mate Denia Caballero for gold - 69.17 to 68.44.

Croatia’s twice Olympic and world champion Sandra Perkovic was third on 66.72 The first Irish woman since Sonia O’Sullivan in 1997 to reach a 1500m World Championship Final, Ciara Mageean goes to the line for her decider at 6:55pm Irish time on Saturday night.

Mageean is ranked 11th of the twelve finalists in terms of both lifetime best and season’s best, but has shown great doggedness and remarkable maturity in her two contests so far.

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