Emmanuel Ihemeje had medals on his mind when he settled into the runway for his last attempt in the men’s triple jump final.
What followed was the best jump of his outdoor career, though it was a few inches short of making the podium.
Ihemeje, a three-time NCAA champion for the Ducks, finished in fifth place at 56 feet, 4 inches, though the plus-2.6 wind will keep it from counting in the Oregon record book.
Still, it was a big improvement on an international stage for the sophomore from Italy who was 11th at the Tokyo Olympics last summer when his best mark was 54-2½.
“We call it ‘Lobo’ here at Oregon, last one best one,” Ihemeje said of his final attempt. “So, a lot of positivity compared from last year in Tokyo . A little bit of pain because the podium was that close.”
Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo won gold at 58-10¾, Burundi’s Hagues Fabrice Zango was the runner-up at 57-7 and China’s Yaming was the bronze medalist at 56-9½.
Ihemeje said the experience of competing at his college stadium in a meet of this magnitude was, “Beautiful. I’m really proud that I could handle it and have fun with it and actually did OK. … I’m leaving this championship with proudness.”
— Chris Hansen
United States qualifies for men’s 4×400 race
In the first of two men’s 4×400 meter heats Saturday afternoon, the United States blew by the competition.
The team, with the quartet of Vernon Norwood, Elija Godwin, Bryce Deadmon and Trevor Bassitt, finished with a time of 2:58.96, coming in first place. Japan (3:01.53) and Jamaica (3:01.59) also qualified for Sunday night’s final.
Belgium won the second heat as Dylan and Kevin Borlee, Julien Watrin and Jonathan Sacoor recorded a time of 3:01.96. That was ahead of the Czech Republic (3:03.42) and Poland (3:02.51).
Trinidad and Tobago (3:02.75) and France (3:03.13) also earned spots in the final.
— Antwan Staley
Allyson Felix comes out of retirement for 4×400 meter relay
United States finished first in the first heat of the 4×400 race as they recorded a time of 3:23.38. Great Britain and France finished second and third and qualified for Sunday’s final. The Netherlands, which initially finished third, was disqualified after dropping the baton and impeding on another team.
The United States and Great Britain separated from the rest early.
Allyson Felix postponed her retirement to participate in Saturday’s race for the United States. Felix ran in the second leg of the 4×400 after team officials convinced her out of a brief retirement after she helped the mixed relay team win a Bronze medal in what was supposed to be Felix’s final major race last week.
Oregon freshman Shana Grebo was a runner on France’s team, participating in the second leg. Grebo is the Oregon record holder in the 400 hurdles with a time of 56.28. On Saturday, she helped France finish with a time of 3:28.89.
Jamaica, Belgium and Canada finished first, second and third in the second 4×400 women’s relay and will participate in Sunday’s finals.
— Antwan Staley
Alaysha Johnson out after 100 hurdle heats
Four United States women were looking to advance to Sunday’s 100-meter hurdle semifinals.
Two did not qualify during Saturday morning’s preliminary heats, including former Oregon Duck standout Alaysha Johnson.
Johnson was disqualified after hitting the first two hurdles during the fourth heat of the day. She is Oregon’s record-holder with a time of 12.69 seconds.
Johnson recorded the second-fastest time in the world this year, 12.35 seconds, in finishing as runner-up in the event at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships last month at Hayward Field
Nia Ali was also looking to defend her world title and advance to the women’s 100-meter hurdles but she crashed and fell on the final hurdle to finish in last place (19.73).
Ali was neck and neck with Anderson until the next-to-last hurdle. As Ali stumbled from the hurdle, she fell on the final hurdle.
Neither Ali nor Johnson interviewed with the media after Saturday’s race.
The United States’ Alia Armstrong and Kendra Harrison — the world record-holder — won the final two hurdle heats and advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.
Leading up to the hurdle heat, the United States had a realistic chance of finishing first, second and third in medaling. Now that Ali and Johnson are both out, that certainly won’t happen.
After Sunday’s heat, Harrison says she felt bad for both Johnson and Ali.
“I wanted the USA to get one, two, three, so we have to represent Team USA the best we can and make it through this round,” Harrison said. “It is a shame that they didn’t make it through.”
— Antwan Staley