Shawn Barber fails to defend pole vault world title
Canadian clears 5.65, places 8th after missing all 3 attempts at 5.75m
Consistency, which has plagued Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber throughout the season, was a problem again in Tuesday's men's final at the track and field world championships.
The 23-year-old Toronto resident failed to defend his 2015 world title (5.90 metres) and finished eighth after missing all three attempts at 5.75 at London Stadium. Barber cleared 5.65 on his third and final try after achieving 5.70 on Sunday to secure his spot in the final.
"There's pressure to compete and do well and get a medal," Barber told CBC News. "It just wasn't my meet, wasn't meant to be."
Barber "didn't look sharp, fast or technically consistent," compared to his winning performance at worlds two years ago in Beijing, according to CBC Sports analyst Dave Moorcroft.
He flirted with disaster on Tuesday, missing the first attempt at 5.50, 5.65 and 5.75 before rebounding on the second try at 5.50 and third and final attempt at 5.65.
"I think it's just between the ears for me," Barber said. "The weather was good, the atmosphere was good. I just couldn't line everything up the way I needed to."
Added Moorcroft: "It is so important to clear the early heights first time, but the signs weren't good when Shawn failed [at 5.50].
"He's still young, has huge talent and is a proven competitor. The next few years will be crucial if he wants to be a medal contender at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
A month ago, Barber's agent and co-coach Jeff Hartwig was confident greater success awaited the pole vaulter, whose personal best is 5.93.
Sam Kendricks of the United States was clean through the first five jumps and later was the only one to scale 5.95 to win gold. Piotr Lisek of Poland took silver with a jump of 5.89, edging world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France on a countback.
Hughes runs season best in steeplechase
Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya overcame recent ankle soreness, following up his 2016 Olympic title in the men's 3,000-metre steeplechase with a victory in the world championship final, crossing the line in eight minutes 14.12 seconds.
"I told myself: 'I am Olympic champion,' and that others must break me," Kipruto said. "There are others who are strong but I used my own plans."
Evan Jager finished third in 8:15.53 in his bid to become the first American to capture a world championship medal.
Matt Hughes of Oshawa, Ont., was sixth in a season-best 8:21.84.
The 28-year-old believed his personal-best time of eight minutes 11.64 seconds was within reach at a Diamond League track and field in Monaco on July 21 after a series of strong workouts that followed his Canadian title (8:30.91) in early July at Ottawa.
'One of the most gifted steeplechasers'
"Matt is technically one of the most gifted steeplechasers in the world," said Moorcroft. "It is not just about running speed but the 36-inch barriers are there to break the runners' rhythm and adapting to that rhythm break is far harder than it looks. The athletes have to clear 28 barriers plus seven water jumps and as fatigue really sets in each barrier feels like a mini mountain.
"Matt ran really well and in the closing stages, when he was obviously very tired, his economical clearance of the barriers allowed him to run strongly to the finish."
Kipruto put forth an unmatchable kick over the final 300 metres, leaving him enough of a gap to celebrate exuberantly down the final stretch, finishing .37 seconds ahead of bronze medallist Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco.
Kenyan or Kenyan-born runners have won the steeplechase at the world championships and the Olympics every time since 1987.
McBride fades in 800 final, finishes 8th
Fresh off his victory in the men's 800-metre heats on Sunday, Brandon McBride of Windsor, Ont., led midway through Tuesday's final before fading and finishing eighth in one minute 47.09 seconds.
The 23-year-old grabbed the lead early and posted a 200 split of 24.15 and 50.76 after 400 metres.
On July 21 in Monaco, McBride ran a season-best 1:44.41 at a Diamond League meet to inch closer to Gary Reed's Canadian mark of 1:43.68. McBride placed 14th at the Rio Olympics last August.
Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse won Tuesday's race in a season-best 1.44.67, followed by Adam Kszctot of Poland in 1:44.95 (season best) and Kipyegon Bett of Kenya in 1:45.21.
Watson into 400 hurdles final
Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta., stopped the clock in 55.05 seconds to qualify sixth for the women's 400-metre hurdles final on Thursday at 4:35 p.m. ET. She ran 55.06 to advance to Tuesday's semifinals.
Watson, who finished 11th at the Rio Olympics last summer in 55.44, has her sights set on the Canadian record of 54.39, set by Rosey Edeh — now a Canadian television personality — at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
In June, Watson won her first NCAA Division I title running for the Arizona Wildcats by clocking 54.52, nearly a full second ahead of her closest competitor.
Emmanuel through to 200m semifinals
Canadian-record holder Crystal Emmanuel of Toronto placed seventh among the 22 qualifiers for the women's 200-metre semifinal on Thursday at 4:05 p.m. ET by finishing second Tuesday in her heat in 22.87 seconds.
Emmanuel, 25, shattered Marita Payne-Wiggins' 34-year-old record in the 200 (22.62) last month in Ireland.
Earlier this week, she matched her personal best in the 100 (11.14) but finished fourth and didn't qualify for the final.
Emmanuel repeated as a double gold medallist at the Canadian championships in early July, clocking 11.20 and 22.55, respectively, in the 100 and 200 at Ottawa.
Defending champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands set the early standard in the 200 heats, jogging across the line and still winning in the best qualifying time of 22.63. Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica is not competing in the 200 this week.
Crew cements spot in shot put final
Brittany Crew of Mississauga, Ont., has advanced to the women's shot put final on Wednesday at 3:25 p.m. ET after her throw of 18.01 metres qualified her eighth among 12 competitors on Tuesday.
"An excellent performance, in particular having to pull out the 18.01 result on her third throw with pressure on her," said Moorcroft.
The 23-year-old entered the world championships having met the world qualifying standard of 17.75 six times, including her throw of 18.32 to win at the Canadian championships in July.
On May 20, Crew improved on her national record with a throw of 18.58 in Tucson, Ariz. Two days earlier, she broke Julie Labonte's mark of 18:31 that stood since 2011. Crew finished 9th in her qualifying group at the Rio Olympics.
"She could realistically hope to get close to her Canadian record," Moorcroft said.
Liz Gleadle 12th in javelin
Two days after saying "anything can happen in a final," Vancouver's Liz Gleadle finished last in Tuesday's 12-women javelin final — her result in the 2012 Olympic final in London — with a best throw of 60.12 metres after throwing 62.97 in Sunday's semifinals.
A poor third attempt measuring 58.36 wasn't enough to keep the 28-year-old in the top eight after three rounds to continue.
Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic won the gold medal Tuesday with a throw of 66.76. The Chinese pair of Ling Wei Li (66.25, personal best) and Huihui Lyu (65.26) took home silver and bronze, respectively.
In July, Gleadle shone at London Stadium with a throw of 64.47 to threaten her Canadian women's record of 64.83, set May 10, 2015 in Kawasaki, Japan.
Wanted more from this meet, but it didn't click. On the bright side - my best finish ever at a Worlds' or Olympics! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IAAFWorlds?src=hash">#IAAFWorlds</a> <a href="https://t.co/K0Na5ze2gK">https://t.co/K0Na5ze2gK</a>—@Javelizz
"She will know that it is an opportunity lost as 65 metres is within her grasp and the bronze was won [by Lyu] with 65.26," said Moorcroft of Gleadle, the 2015 Pan Am champion. "But at 28, time is on Liz's side to bounce back and challenge for top-six at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
A two-time Olympian, Gleadle's best of 60.28 was good for 16th at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Van Niekerk breezes to 400m title
Wayde van Niekerk successfully defended his world title in the 400 metres, adding to his Olympic gold and world record. The South African, running in Lane 6, paced his race perfectly and even eased up at the end to cross in 43.98 seconds.
Silver medallist Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas was .43 seconds behind and Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar finished in 44.48 for bronze. Medal favourite Isaac Makwala of Botswana was kept out of the race because of a stomach virus even though he insisted he had fully recovered.
With files from The Associated Press