LONDON -- A stunning run in Lane 9 gave Kori Carter a surprise victory over Dalilah Muhammad in the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the World Championships. But it was a win that had its roots in one of the races of the season at the U.S. national trials.
Carter said after Thursday's triumph: "Going up against Team USA at trials really prepared me for this." And with good reason.
Carter finished third at the trials, but clocked a personal best of 52.96 seconds. Ahead of her in Sacramento, California, in June were Muhammad and Shamier Little, who surprisingly lost out in the semifinals at the World Championships on Tuesday. Behind her were Ashley Spencer, Georganne Moline and Sydney McLaughlin. Together, the six Americans that day set the six fastest times in the world this year heading into these championships.
To put that in context: Ristananna Tracey of Jamaica won a bronze medal Thursday with a time of 53.74 seconds, a personal best. That would have put her only sixth in Sacramento. The first three athletes in Sacramento all went under 53 seconds, with three more under 54 seconds. In Thursday's final, Tracey became the only other person through the whole of this year to break the 54-second mark.
Carter also tipped her cap to training partner Kendra Harrison, who begins her 100-meter hurdles campaign in London on Friday morning. "She is one of my best friends," said Carter. "Kendra and I have become very close friends. If we have to do ice baths we challenge each other to do it, not to miss it.
"We are like two sides of the same coin, we do a lot of battles. It is an atmosphere of greatness. Everyone is holding themselves to greatness and pushing themselves to a higher level."
-- Steven Saunders
Injuries put paid to Centrowitz hopes
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the U.S. team Thursday night, though. Olympic 1,500-meter champion Matthew Centrowitz was introduced as such to the London Stadium crowd before his heat in the event, but his sheepish wave to the fans hinted at what was to follow.
The 27-year-old from Maryland went on to finish last of 14 runners in Heat 1 of qualifying, and clocked the fifth-slowest time of the three heats combined.
"I've given enough excuses so far, but at the U.S. nationals [trials] I've had some injuries," said Centrowitz. "All athletes go through them. I've just had more than I usually do in one season.
"My fitness clearly isn't where I'd like it to be. I didn't feel like I could get any more than a couple of weeks of good, healthy training in."
-- Steven Saunders
Muir runs flat out
Laura Muir is still putting pressure on herself to win a medal despite grimacing her way down the final straight and then collapsing on the track in exhaustion at the end of her 5,000-meter heat.
She qualified for the final as one of the fastest losers with a time of 14 minutes, 59.34 seconds -- 10.22 seconds slower than her personal best, which was set indoors.
"That was long!" Muir said postrace. "I ran as hard as I could and that [race] was really fast. We'd been looking at the times in the heats from previous championships and that was the fastest, that I know of anyway. I felt good out there apart from that last lap."
Muir said she is better than she showed on Thursday and is banking on the recovery time she has before Sunday's final to help her prove it. But at least she has put her fourth-place finish in the 1,500-meters final behind her.
"I watched the race back, talked about it with my coach, my family and it took about a day to analyse it all and put it in perspective," said the 24-year-old, who will be joined by fellow Briton Eilish McColgan in the 5,000-meter final.
"At the end of the day, fourth in the world is bloody good, and it's the best I've achieved in a global final. Much better than Rio [Muir finished seventh in the Olympic final last year] and it's the closest I've been from the front. It's hard to take but fourth in the world is really good."
-- Leo Spall
Singh makes history for India in javelin
One of the biggest cheers of the night came for Davinder Singh, who qualified for the final of the men's javelin in dramatic fashion.
Needing a throw of at least 83 meters to advance from Group B, and having thrown within a meter of that mark with his two previous throws, Singh was the last man to go. In an all-or-nothing attempt -- and with his right shoulder strapped to protect an existing injury -- the 28-year-old launched a throw of 84.22 meters to become the first Indian ever to reach a javelin final at the World Championships.
Singh said afterward that he was additionally motivated by knowing that 19-year-old compatriot Neeraj Chopra, the junior world-record holder, had already been eliminated.
"After I came to know that Neeraj did not qualify, I wanted to qualify for the final," said Singh, who tested positive for marijuana in May. "I wanted to do something for the country, I wanted to do something which no Indian has done before. By the grace of God, I did something for the country."
-- Steven Saunders
Asher-Smith pleads for peace
British athletes have been receiving tremendous backing in these home championships, but it almost went too far during the women's 200-meters semifinal.
Dina Asher-Smith ran a superb heat to advance to the final, but she was very nearly put off in her blocks by shouts of "We love you, Dina" from a couple of spectators in an otherwise silent stadium.
Asher-Smith said afterward: "That was amazing but please, tomorrow [for the final], not on 'Set'!"
-- Steven Saunders