Deep thoughts on a stupendous day two of World Indoor Track & Field

The second day of the 2024 World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, had spills and chills from the beginning to the end of sessions 1 and 2.

The crowd of 5,000 Scottish fans in both sessions was treated to some of the finest running, jumping, and vaulting today.

Where did “Sensational Saturday” come from? None other than World Athletics commentator Rob Walker! 

1. One centimeter is the difference between gold, silver, and bronze!

Miltiadis Tentoglou opened the long jump with a leap of 8.22 meters. Italy’s wunderkind, Mattia Furlani, leaped 8.22 meters in the next attempt. Neither improved. So, the final decision on the medals came down to second best jumps. Tentoglou had an 8.15m second best and Furlani had a 8.10m second best. Carey McLeod of Jamaica pushed the rest of the field out of bronze medal contention with his jump of 8.21m.

GLASGOW, UK – MAR 2: Image of Miltiadis TENTOGLOU at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on MAR 2, 2024 in GLASGOW, UK (Photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics).

The Greek star was an unhappy camper, and he noted that in his flash quote: “This result does not mean anything to me. I did not like the competition today; it was bad for me. I jumped terribly. The morning final is like a ‘dog shit.’ I do not care much, but I was lucky to win. I am just a lucky guy. It was very close. I hope everyone had some fun today. At least, it was exciting at the end. This track is one of my favorites, so it was good, similar to Budapest. I was not excited about winning this title, and I do not think it will help me prepare for the summer. It was just another competition for me. I consider a long jump one of the hardest events because of the board and your needed accuracy. You need to run like a sprinter to hit the board perfectly – this is the difficult part of the long jump. The jump itself is easy. The hard part is the run-up. So, if they want to remove this, the long jump would be the easiest event. If that happens, I will not do the long jump anymore. I will be a triple jumper.”

2. Burkina Faso gets a gold medal from its favorite triple jumper

Hughes Fabrice Zango does a lot of firsts for his country, Burkina Faso.

Yasser Mohamed Triki, Algeria, opened the jumping at 17.35m, as the rest of the field gook a while to get over seventeen meters. Triki fouled in attempts 2 and 3 and then passed the rest of the competition.

Hughes Fabrice Zango worked hard, going from 16.99mm to his fifth place 17.53m jump, when he finally took the lead and gave Burkina Faso its first gold medal in the world indoor.

A very pleased Monsieur Zango said: “It’s never easy to win a championship. When I came here, I thought I might be able to do something, but my season wasn’t what I wanted. Tonight I tried and tried and it finally happened on my fifth jump – doing 17.53 is crazy. I’m really happy for Burkina Faso and Africa because we have two Africans on the podium in the final.”

GLASGOW, UK – MAR 2: Image of Hugues Fabrice Zango at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on MAR 2, 2024 in GLASGOW, UK (Photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics).

Tiago Pereira, Portugal, won the bronze with a hop, skip, and jump of 17.08 meters. After getting his first medal, Tiago told the media: “I feel amazing. It was my first medal in a major in the world, with a PB. Finally, my work is starting to pay off. In 2017, when I had been doing the high jump for 12 years and decided to switch to the triple jump, people said I was crazy. But to jump 17 meters and finally win a medal here is great. I have changed coach and things have been different. I was the best high jumper in Portugal, but I would rather be the third-best triple jumper in the world than the best high jumper in Portugal, but I have not won a championship medal. You have to fight until the last jump; it was a difficult event for me; I started with a fall, one safe jump, and then a fall. In my last jump, I thought, I will give my everything, and everything gets me a medal.”

3. Big Upset in Women’s 3,000 meters!

Everyone was watching Gudaf Tsegay. Many in Scotland were hoping for Laura Muir, Scotland’s superstar. Steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech lead the race through 1k in 2:48.83. Behind Chepkoeach were Tsegay, Hull, and St. Pierre, with Muir back in tenth. Laura Muir had to push hard to get back into the first group, as the pace continued tough, as Gudaf Tsegay led, with Hull, Chepkoech, and St. Pierre on Tsegay. 2000m hit in 5:35.78. Tsegay had been a bit annoyed as Hull was close to her heels. St. Pierre kept her head down, and Muir tried to get closer but would not get closer than fifth.

The six fastest women in 2024 are all in this final! Tsegay is trying to push the pace, but it is not going well. Tsegay puts her arm out, as Hull seems too close to Tsegay, at least for the Ethiopian’s preferences.

Elle St. Pierre’s story is remarkable. Just a year ago today, she was expecting her son, Ivan, who was born a few days later. In four races back, Elle Pierre had run an 8:20 3k, 4:16 mile, then an 8:54 for 3000m altitude.

GLASGOW, UK – MAR 2: Image of Elle ST. PIERRE at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on MAR 2, 2024, in GLASGOW, UK (Photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics).

But who was going to challenge Gudaf Tsegay?

With just two laps to go, Jessica Hull dropped to fourth, Elle St. Pierre went to lane two and moved into a better position with one lap to go. Using a 29.67 last 200 meters, Elle St. Pierre willed herself in front of Gudaf Tsegay, who was more shocked than anything, as the American made history, taking gold for the US for the first time in this 3,000 meters in 8:20.87, with Tsegay in silver in 8:21.13 and Beatrice Chepkoech, in 8:22.68 NR for bronze. Jessica Hull, Australia, took 4th with her 4th NR of the season.

Elle Purrier told Lewis Johnson of NBC that she was so happy to win the 3,000m and have her family here. Elle St. Pierre has had a fantastic season, moving from silver to gold in the Women’s 3,000 meters and making history!

The superlatives for Elle St. Purrier continue. Her Champs record broke a 35-year-old record for the 3,000m! Her time of 8:20.87 is the third fastest EVER. And, of course, Elle St. Purrier set an American record, a championship record, and a superb personal best!

Congrats to Elle, her family, and her coach, Mark Coogan, who has a beautiful working style with his athletes.

4. Josh Kerr Delivers to Scotland!

Josh Kerr is the Olympic bronze medalist at 1,500 meters from 2021. Last summer, in hot and humid Budapest, Josh Kerr achieved the plans of his coach, Danny Mackey, by challenging Jakob Ingebrigtsen five times in the last 300 meters, giving us the most exciting finish in a 1,500m since Pekka Vassala’s win in Munich 1972!

Kerr’s win was not a fluke. And it irritated the Norwegian, who, after Josh Kerr’s 2 mile indoor World record of 8:00.53 in Millrose, noted, “I could have beat him blindfolded.”

Well, no one could beat Josh Kerr in any method in Glasgow.

The pace was total roller derby on the fast new MONDO track. Kerr had Selemon Barega, World Champion over 10,000m and World Indoor Champion over 3,000m, who had run faster than Josh Kerr this season. He had Yared Nuguse, AR holder at Mile, Indoor, and Out, and one dangerous kicker. Getnet Wale, Ethiopia’s steeplechase star, also had a faster 3,000m than Kerr.

But here’s the deal, Josh Kerr wanted this badly. I recall the quote from the 1968 Olympic gold medalist Bill Toomey at the decathlon. Toomey told me that the winner of most global medals is “the one who covets the medal the most.”

Josh Kerr takes gold, Yared Nuguse takes silver, and in M 3000m, the photo by Dan Vernon is for World Athletics.

Josh Kerr was knocked around during the final. The term is jostled, but the Scot kept his cool. In the last kilometer, Olin Hacker, an NCAA 5,000m champion (like his father, Tim), charged to the front and shook it up. That increase in pace pushed the race into medal chasing, and Josh Kerr went outside and made his move.

Josh Kerr’s last 400m is, well, deadly. He ran 52.65 to distance himself from Selemon Barega. Barega did not notice that Yared Nuguse, coming from way back, passed Wale, and then Barega took the silver. Getnet Wale took the bronze, with Olin Hacker in fifth!

This was a huge emotional moment for Josh Kerr. Post-race, in his inimitable style, Josh told the assembled media:

“I just didn’t want to shortchange anyone tonight because I knew I had the support of all Scotland and the UK tonight. But I think I used more energy celebrating than I did in the race. This was so important to me because I’ve come to championships before not ready to take a real swing at it, and I feel like I’ve let the UK audience down a bit the way I’ve performed in front of them, so to come here fit and ready to go and to do it here means everything. I had to keep a patient head and let it come together. I’m so glad I could do that. It wasn’t the cleanest race, but I got it done, and having another world title feels amazing. This packed Scottish stadium sounded like the loudest I’ve ever heard. I knew I needed not to let them down. It was emotional out there.”

Yared Nuguse, the silver medalist, achieved his first global medal and was ecstatic! Here’s what Yared told the media in the mixed zone:

“I feel like, Finally, I have achieved it. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd was hyped in the last two laps. It would be pressure with anything, but I liked it a lot. The 3000m is nice because it helps to build my strength and is not super sharp like 1500m, but I will double up. It felt like a nice competition to run against all these guys, and I was thrilled to do it. I saw the ending of the women’ s 3k, I saw Elle when she won. I am so proud of her; she killed it. We will be like: Wow, good job. This is my first major medal, and it means a lot to me. I have been expecting it for some time, In have been on this level, I was number two last year and did not get it so I was just going through these races and now, I am really excited. My parents will tell me that I should have gone faster and gotten the gold.”

5. Femke Bol takes gold and a new WR!

Femke Bol has trained for both the 400-meter and 400-meter hurdles.

Femke Bol set a WR at 400m just weeks ago in 49.23. I was reading about her workouts, and she trains like an 800-meter runner who goes over hurdles!

Femke Bol dominated her final, with Lieke Klaver, her teammate, chasing her and Alexis Holmes of the USA, pushing to gain a medal.

Femke Bol hit the finish in 49.17, a new world record! Lieke Klaver finished in silver in 50.16. Alexis Holmes, USA, was bronze in 50.24 PB. Laviai Nielson, GBR, finished 5th in PB of 50.89 with Talitha Diggs, USA, 51.23 =SB. Susanne Gogl-Walli, Austria, took sixth in 51.37 NR.

GLASGOW, UK – MAR 2: Image of Femke BOL at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on MAR 2, 2024, in GLASGOW, UK (Photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics).

Femke Bol told the media: “It was amazing. It was such a strong race I knew I had to go out fast. My coach told me,’ You can run faster,’ but I wanted to win. This is great because I’ve not done hurdles for four weeks, which gives me confidence. And getting this with Lieke is so good for our sport and team. I am missing the hurdles. I like the 400, and I must say I like the indoors more than the outdoors. It is just great to race. I enjoy racing, and this competition and the atmosphere have been unique.”

Netherlands takes gold and silver, Lieke Klaver with silver, Femke Bol with gold, photo by Martin Bateman.

A pleased Lieke Klaver spoke of her silver: “It means a lot to get this medal. I had planned it, but you still have to deliver. I’ve just finished my studies, and now winning this silver medal is great. I love indoors. You can step out of the intensity of winter training for a bit. Now, we go back to training after the championships. But we are so excited in the Dutch team about the relays here. The girls brought me coffee this morning. We do this in our team and can’t wait to get out and run the (4x400m) relay.”

6. Oh, what a 400-meter final for the Men. Doom breaks Warholm’s 10-year winning streak at the indoor two-lapper!

Karsten Warholm started as a decathlete and then got into the 400-meter hurdles. The Crazy Viking loves the 400 meters and just wants some racing.

So, when he realized he had a 400m qualifier, Karsten came into Glasgow and ran well in the heat and semi yesterday.

Karsten Warholm gets out fast in the indoor 400m. Remember, Warholm was almost beaten in the 400 meters at the European Indoors last year.

In one of the most exciting 400 meters I have ever seen, Alexander Doom moved into lane two, slowly onto the side of Warholm, then passed the Norwegian, running 45.25 NR for Belgium. Karsten Warholm took the silver in 45.34 with Rusheed McDonald, JAM, 45.65 PB.

Alexander Doom told the media: “It’s amazing. I never expected this because we didn’t have this in our sights. Usually, I am just focused on the 4×4. But I loved running individually. The heats and the semis went really well yesterday, and beating Karsten Warholm today is amazing. He’s an Olympic champion and has won almost everything there is. Not many people have beaten him. At the finish line, I felt so, so, so gorgeous. Now, the focus is on the 4×4 and qualifying for the Olympics from the World Relays. And then it’s the summer. The European championship is a big goal for me.”

Karston Warholm, Alexander Doom, Rusheen McDonald, photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics

The crazy Viking was circumspect. He told the media:

“I didn’t have time to do all the usual winter work, so I felt a bit stressed with the rounds. All in all, it’s an acceptable time, so it’s OK. It was a last-minute decision to come here. I get a little bit of feeling out of it and get to test the body. As long as I didn’t get any injuries, it was all OK. Of course, I wish I had won today, but it was so nice coming out here and performing in front of all that noise. You guys know how to do athletics. I think this was a great race for the 350 meters. Then, it was a bit heavy in the end, and I got lactic. As you know, I did not start my indoor season until yesterday, so I should have been better prepared. But I am happy to walk away from injury-free, and congrats to the gold medal winner. I always wanted gold, but today, it was the tough one.”

7. Grant Holloway defends his gold with a new CR!

Grant Holloway has not been defeated at the indoor hurdles since March 14, 2014.

In Glasgow, Grant opened with 7.44 in the heats and 7.32 in the semifinal.

In the final, Grant Holloway went out hard and was in the lead by the first hurdle, and no one was near him for hurdle 2, hurdle 3, hurdle 4, hurdle 5, and sprint to the finish. Grant goes 7.29, equaling the Championship record! Lorenzo Simonelli, ITA, takes silver in 7.43 NR, and Just Kwaou-Mathey, FRA, one of the fantastic French sprint hurdlers, takes the bronze in 7.47!

Grant Holloway defends his gold, 60-meter hurdles, photo by Dan Vernon Photo for World Athletics.

After his win, Grant Holloway noted: “This morning was a little bit of a shake, but to come out of here and go sub-7.3 is a good time. I’m happy to defend my title, and let’s see how the rest of the year plays out – I’m looking forward to it. I had good fun out here and achieved what I wanted to. It wasn’t a record, but that’s OK. I know I’m in good shape for the summer. It was my fifth-world title, so I’m happy to keep racking them up. I’m in great shape and be ready to hit it again.”

The American hurdler had told me early in the season, in Boston, that he needed to get a clean start, and he would be able to run 7.32-7.33. He must now focus on the US Olympic Trials and some unfinished business in Paris in August 2024.

8. Saint Lucia gets its first World Champs medal

Julien Alfred, LCA, and Ewa Swoboda, POL, were the focus of this race.

Aleia Hobbs hurt herself in the semifinal and could not stand during the warm-up. After trying to stand up, Aleia Hobbs had to be taken off the track in a wheelchair.

Ewa Swoboda has a lighting start. How would Julien Alfred combat the Polish star’s absolute speed!

Ewa Swoboda got out fast in the final, and Julien Alfred came alongside her.

Alfred and Swoboda battled with no clear leader for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and fifty meters.

In the final five meters, Julien Alfred, St. Lucia, took the lead to give her the gold in a world-leading equal run on 6.98m. Ewa Swoboda, POL, took the silver in 7.00, and Italy’s Zaynab Dosso, ITA, ran 7.05. In 4th was Kiwki Zoe Hobbs, the first Kiwi under 11 seconds, who set her second NR at 60m with a fab 7.06 AR! Mikiah Brisco, training partner of Aleia Hobbs, ran 7.08 in fifth. In Sixth was Rai Rosius, BEL, 7.14.

Julien Alfred battles Ewa Swoboda, photo by Dan Vernon Photo for World Athletics.

Julien Alfred noted to the media and her gold medal :

“I think losing last season at the world championships and coming that close to a medal in the 100m and the 200m gave me a boost. I was starving coming to the next season. I feel like I was disappointed last season. My coach came from Austin to be with me, so I wanted to make him proud. I will just keep hungry, train hard, and keep chasing what I want. I’ll trust in my coach and myself.”

Ewa Swoboda, who took silver, was mixed about her finish, and she noted that to the media: “I know that every medal counts, but my feelings are mixed – I feel half and half – half happy and half upset. After that semifinal, I was already a bit tired and told myself: God, I wish this day would finally end. So when it comes to this, I think this result is still quite good. It would be ideal to have only two runs today. To run three times under 7.10, you cannot get it just like that. It already hurts. The whole body hurts. Before the start, they had already checked to see if we were OK. All is fine. If everything goes well before the summer, if I stay healthy, it may be a good summer. The silver medal is a national record that satisfies me.”

9. Molly Caudery gives Team GB a second gold medal for the night!

The women’s pole vault is one of the most popular events in our sport.

The level of competition in the Women’s pole vault is incredibly high. Olympic champion, Katie Moon, European champion, Wilma Murto, Olympic, European and World Champion, Katerina Stefanidi, two time World Indoor Champ, Sandi Morris, and Olympic bronze medalist Eliza McCartney.

We sometimes forget that these events challenge ordinary humans’ mental and physical limits.

There was a break around 4.65 meters when French champion Margot Chevrier fell into the vault box and broke her ankle. There was a long break as Margot was taken off the track. We wish her a quick recovery.

Molly Caudery had an incredible season, as the British vaulter cleared 4.80m, 4.83m, 4.85m, and 4.86m this season. Two seasons ago, she injured her finger, required surgery, and took nine months away from the pole vault.

GLASGOW, UK – MAR 2: Image of Molly CAUDERY at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on MAR 2, 2024, in GLASGOW, UK (Photo by Dan Vernon for World Athletics).

Sandi Morris was the first out, missing three times at 4.75m, finishing fifth.

Angelica Moser, Switzerland, former European champion, cleared 4.40m on the first attempt, 4.55m on the second attempt, 4.65 on the first attempt, needed 3 attempts at 4.75m, and then missed at 4.80m three times, finishing 4th.

Olympic champion Katie Moon, two-time World Champion, cleared 4.55m on first, passed at 4.65m, took two attempts to clear 4.75m, and then missed her three attempts to the next height of 4.80m, taking the bronze. One wonders out loud if her Achilles was troubled in this competition.

The battle for the gold came down to Eliza McCartney, who cleared 4.55m on first, needed two times on 4.65m, cleared 4.75m on first, Eliza took 3 attempts at 4.80m.

Molly Caudery, the world leader, cleared 4.55m and 4.65m on the first attempt and 4.75m on the second attempt; the second attempt needed 4.80 meters.

What is the difference between Eliza McCartney and Molly Caudery? That third attempt by Eliza at 4.80 meters!

Molly Caudery made three attempts at 4.85m and missed on all three.

Eliza McCartney missed her first attempt at 4.85m, passed, and moved to 4.90m, missing her last two attempts.

The gold would go to Molly Caudery, GB, 4.80m. Silver would go to Eliza McCartney, NZ, 4.80m, and Bronze to Katie Moon, USA, 4.75m.

Molly Caudery, happy in front of an arena with her cheering countrypeople, noted to the media: “After two surgeries last year, I felt like I was losing belief in myself and that motivation at times. But that’s part of being an athlete – you must turn up each day, get it done, and trust that you’re on the right flight path. I honestly can’t believe I’m a world champion in an Olympic year. To go from injury to world level was hard enough. To be a world indoor champion is astonishing to me. It’s not sunk in. I just don’t have the words for what just happened. It was so so special. My dreams are coming true. I’m loving absolutely every single moment of this journey. After last year, I had a bit more fire in me.”

Katie Moon, bronze medalist, noted to the media what many had suspected:
“I hate to see anyone dealing with injuries, but we have many. I’m just grateful to be walking away with a medal and not in any more pain than I came in. The Achilles is still bothersome, and I haven’t been able to run or vault on it these past two weeks, so it’s not what you want coming to a championship. I hate coming in feeling under-prepared, but I still wanted to try and give it a go, and I’m glad I did. It was sub-par, but I’m proud to have received a medal. It instills a lot of confidence in me to know that when I get it taken care of, I can push back into the outdoor season. I am pretty excited if I can earn a medal feeling like this.”

The second day of the World Indoor Champs has lived up to and even surpassed the hype.