Steeplechaser Jeruto plunges into water after gold at worlds

Jul 20, 2022, 7:13 AM | Updated: 9:01 pm
Gold medalist Norah Jeruto, of Kazakhstan, celebrates after her win in the women's 3000-meter steep...

Gold medalist Norah Jeruto, of Kazakhstan, celebrates after her win in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase final at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Steeplechaser Norah Jeruto came up with a cool way to celebrate her victory at the end of a sizzling hot day at the world championships.

A pool party. Everyone was invited, too.

The Kenyan-born runner who recently began representing Kazakhstan moved to the backstretch following her win Wednesday and took the plunge — straight into the event’s water pit.

A moment later, the Jeruto was joined by her two Ethiopian competitors, runner-up Werkuha Getachew and bronze medalist Mekides Abebe. Not wanting to be left out, Legend, the mascot for these championships, jumped in, too.

Jeruto finished in a championship-record 8 minutes, 53.02 seconds to hold off Getachew by 1.59 seconds.

“The weather was good here. I enjoyed my race today,” Jeruto said. “At the starting line, I was afraid of my friends from Ethiopia. They are also champions like me so I was scared of them. I tried my best to win the race and it was not easy. It was tough.”

It was a tough day for Emma Coburn, a two-time world medalist in the event who faded late and finished eighth.

“Disappointing,” Coburn said. “I went for it and it didn’t pay off.”

It was a warm one at Hayward Field with temperatures hovering around 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius). To stay cool, many athletes donned ice vests before competing, wore sunglasses while racing and wrapped cold towels around their shoulders when finished.

But Jeruto may have had the best solution — go for a swim and splash around.

The steeplechase was one of two events that handed out medals on a night where the stands were far from packed. Feng Bin of China was a surprise winner in the women’s discus, beating runner-up Sandra Perkovic of Croatia and Olympic champion Valarie Allman, who finished with bronze. Feng earned the victory with her first throw.

“Truly, it’s bittersweet,” said Allman, who earned the first world medal in the women’s discus for the U.S. “I just couldn’t find that big throw. It’s good to walk out with a medal.”

Sydney McLaughlin coolly cruised through her semifinal heat of the 400-meter hurdles. Hardly pressed and conserving energy near the finish, the Olympic champion and world-record holder finished in a time of 52.17 seconds at the world championships Wednesday night.

That’s fast for never kicking into overdrive.

It might be another sign that her record of 51.41 — set on this track nearly a month ago — could fall yet again. The final is Friday and includes all three medalists from the Tokyo Games — McLaughlin, silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad and bronze medalist Femke Bol of the Netherlands.

“It was a good day to get faster,” said McLaughlin, who improved on her first-round time by almost two seconds. “I just want to be free, give all I have and leave it all on the track.”

On deck, another epic showdown.

“I still have something left, of course,” Bol said. “I am ready for a good final.”

Wednesday also marked both the beginning and end of Caster Semenya’s stay at worlds. She finished 13th and did not advance through her 5,000 qualifying heat. She ran the longer distance because she is banned from her specialty, the 800, due to rules that demand she take hormone-reducing drugs to enter certain races.

The Americans suffered a blow when world 100-meter champion Fred Kerley was knocked out of the 4×100 relay due to a quadriceps injury. He was hurt while running the semifinals of the 200.

Kerley was a 400-meter specialist who moved down in distance before last year’s Olympics. He won silver in the 100 in Tokyo, then the gold in Eugene last Saturday as part of an American medals sweep that also included Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell.

The season is over for defending 800 world champion Donavan Brazier, who struggled in his first-round heat and didn’t advance.

Next stop, surgery.

Brazier will undergo a procedure to shave down bone in his heel and in an effort to return to the form in 2019, when he won at worlds in Doha.

“It makes it very hard to go from being the best in the world, to next next week I’ll be on crutches,” Brazier said. “That really sucks. It makes me feel like I’m an injury-prone athlete. I don’t want to be that one-and-done runner.”

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Steeplechaser Jeruto plunges into water after gold at worlds