The Stars and Stripes took centre stage on day five of the IAAF World Athletics Championships as US men took the titles in the 200m, 800m and pole vault before a joyous multi-cultural crowd in Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium.
The sprinter who is fast inheriting Usain Bolt’s title as the world’s most watchable athlete, 22-year-old Noah Lyles stormed to victory in the 200m after a season of dominance that included a 19.50 clocking that lifted him to fourth on the world all-time list.
The light-footed Lyles is an effortless entertainer and is entirely comfortable in the spotlight, as he demonstrated by carrying off outright favouritism for the title at his first World Championships.
At the end of a long season, he was not at his absolute best, but the result never seemed in doubt as he glided to the lead at the top of the straight and drove to the finish line in 19.83, more than a metre clear of Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Andre de Grasse (19.96), while Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez took the bronze (19.98).
“It’s my time,” Lyles declared.
“So many times this year I’ve thought of being world champion, you wouldn’t believe it. I have it on my phone, I say it to myself in my car, I think it all the time – and finally to have done it feels unbelievable.
“Don’t say I’m the new Bolt. I’m me. If you like me, I’ll happily entertain you.”
There was also exceptional entertainment value in the pole vault final as USA’s Sam Kendricks and Sweden’s Armand Duplantis staged a vertical duel for the title.
Defending champion Kendricks eventually prevailed on a countback after both men cleared 5.97m on their final attempts, but could go no further. A first-time clearance of 5.92m delivered the title to Kendricks.
Piotr Lisek of Poland took the bronze (5.87m) and the three men celebrated together by doing synchronised backflips on the mat.
In the 800m, Donavan Brazier laid waste to the field with a sensational display to became the first US athlete to win a world 800m title.
He took down both the championship record and North American record, which had each stood for more than 30 years.
The 21-year-old two-lap sensation turned the race into a procession after kicking past Wesley Vazquez (who had set a searing first lap split of 48.96) to open up a huge margin on the field in the last 200m.
Attacking the final 100m with relish, he destroyed the opposition to clock 1:42.34 and triumph by the biggest winning margin in the history of the event at a World Championships.
To complete a sensational night of finals, Kelsey-Lee Barber snapped Australia’s silver streak in this event, delivering her nation’s first world javelin title with a thrilling sixth-round throw.
Twice before Australia has claimed a silver in this event (Joanna Stone in 1997 and Kim Mickle in 2013) but Barber’s impeccably timed 66.56m effort elevated her from fourth to gold.
China held first and second place until Barber upended the pecking order. Neither Chinese athlete could counter with their final throws, leaving Liu Shiying with the silver (65.88m) and world leader Lyu Huihui (65.49m) with the bronze.