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Five things we learned on Athletics World Championships day 6 – When it rains, it pours and the unstoppable Phyllis Francis

Karsten Warholm of Norway celebrates after winning gold in 400 metre hurdles.
Karsten Warholm of Norway celebrates after winning gold in 400 metre hurdles. Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS

Norwegian Karsten Warholm dons a plastic Viking helmet on his lap of honour and van Niekerk scrapes into the 200 metre final.


London calling

Let’s face it, you can market championships all you like but you need a bit of luck with the weather. After temperatures of 16 degrees Celsius on day five, we had rain on day six. Not just a tiny bit but hours of the stuff. The track was awash. We assume this is how athletes make a splash.

Mr Samba what were you thinking?

Abderrahaman Samba lined up for the men’s 400m hurdles in a baseball cap daubed with Qatar emblazoned on it. Understandable because that is the country he is representing. And also because it was pouring with rain. He was also wearing dark glasses. Not at all comprehensible given the appalling weather. Samba was third as he approached the final hurdle. But he clipped it with his right foot. Perhaps he didn't see it properly what with those dark glasses. Whether that's true or not he lost his balance and ended up making some moves that looked like – well, the samba.

When in doubt, get the clichés out.

Karsten Warholm used to be into the decathlon. But he decided to pursue the 400m hurdles. Good move as he won the world title with a gutsy run. He kept his nerve as the Olympic champion Kerron Clement bore down on him. Warholm, 21, won the race in 48.35 seconds. Yasmani Copello from Turkey was second and Clement had to be content with the bronze. What headgear did the young Norwegian wear on his lap of honour? A baseball cap with Norway on it? Oh come on. A beret? Non. A plastic Viking helmet? Skol!

No stopping this girl

Phyllis Francis beat more illustrious rivals Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo to seize her first world championship title in the women’s 400m. Felix, 31, has been around since the world championships in Helsinki in 2005 and the bronze medal she captured from the women’s 400m took her world championships medal tally up to 14. She’s on a par with the Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey. But is La Felix thinking of retiring? No way. “I just love the sport and am really passionate about it.  I’m really proud of what I’ve done over the past 14 years and as long as I’m having fun and enjoying myself, that’s enough for me and I’ll continue on.” See you at the next one.

It ain’t easy

True, we might have heard this one before. But it really isn’t that straightforward this brilliance lark. Usain Bolt, with his antic disposition, might have underplayed his inherent tenacity as he won consecutive Olympic 100 and 200m gold medals in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. Wayde van Niekerk won the men’s 400m on day five at a canter. On day six he was back out in the semi-final of the 200m. And he struggled in his semi-final. He finished outside the automatic qualifying places for the final and only scraped into the showdown on day seven as one of the fastest third place finishers. It not pomp stuff à la Bolt. But at least van Niekerk’s in the final. But the 25-year-old South African isn’t looking imperious.

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