Winners/Losers: 2019 IAAF World Championships

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The 2019 IAAF World Championships were a whirlwind of brilliant performances, controversy, and many a laser-light show.

Here were the winners and losers in Doha:


Sifan Hassan

The 26-year-old treated Doha like an audition to become the greatest female distance runner on the planet. And after dominating the 10,000m and 1500m -- becoming the first person to win both at the World Championships -- Hassan has secured the part.

Hassan’s dominance at the 2019 World Championships is best explained like this: Her 3:59 last 1500m of the 10,000m victory was only her second-most impressive split. The 2:01 800m to close out her 3:51.95 1500m gold was just showing off -- she beat the reigning world champion by over two seconds.

Of course, Hassan’s unprecedented double wasn’t without controversy. In between the gold medals, Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar was given a four-year anti-doping ban. By itself, Salazar’s rule-breaking has nothing to do with Hassan, but the timing of the ban couldn’t have come at a worse moment for her.

Kenyan Steeple

0.01 was the difference between a 32-year Kenyan-born streak of global championship gold in the men’s steeplechase continuing and an Ethiopian drought ending:

With Conseslus Kipruto’s razor-thin defeat of Lamecha Girma, Kenya-born men remain undefeated in the steeple at every World Championships and Olympic Games since 1988. On the flip side, their Ethiopian counterparts still have yet to win a steeple gold at a global championship.

400m Underdogs

Raises are in order for the coaches of 400m world champions Salwa Eid Naser and Steven Gardiner, as both athletes elevated their games substantially in Doha to win surprising golds. 

Naser’s 48.14 was the fastest quarter in 34 years and cut nearly a second off the PR of a woman who already owned a silver medal. The clocking was so stunning that it nearly obscured the fact that the Bahraini beat a woman in Shaunae Miller-Uibo who hadn’t lost in over two years.

The men’s 400m lost some of its shine when world leader Michael Norman stunningly exited in the semifinals due to a nagging injury, but Steven Gardiner ran so well in the final that Norman would’ve had his hands full even at 100 percent. The Bahamian ran 43.48, the eighth-fastest time in history. For a guy who didn’t break 44 seconds in 2019 before Doha, that’s a flex. 

U.S. Men’s Sprints

The 100m gold and silver, 200m gold, and a sweep of the relays counts as mission accomplished for the American men in Doha’s fastest events. Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles delivered as huge favorites in their respective disciplines, and the pair bookended the first 4x100m gold for the U.S. men since 2007.

A dominant 4x400m performance capped off a great championship for Team USA’s young crop of sprint talent.

In-Stadium Air Conditioning

It was scorching hot every single day in Doha. Khalifa International Stadium, however, was lovely. The stadium air-conditioning certainly contributed to pleasantly fast distance times and temperate viewing conditions.

I would not want to be responsible for paying the enormous cooling bill.

Stadium Presentation

More of this.



Hey IAAF, this ain’t it.

Attendance was respectable during the distance races and excellent when Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim won high jump gold on day eight, but far too often Khalifa International Stadium was barren during key moments of the championships. The IAAF should not be able to get away with holding the top event of the year in a place that cannot generate sufficient local interest. But like it always has, money drives everything for track and field’s governing body, with an empty stadium serving as a reminder that the IAAF would rather get paid than enrich the sport. 

Chinese Women's 4x1 

Cue the circus music.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen

It’s tough to call top-five finishes in both the 5,000m and 1500m anything other than a success for a 19-year-old, but Jakob Ingebrigtsen expected more of himself in a season where he became one of the best distance runners in the world. In that regard, Jakob calling himself one of "the biggest losers" was appropriate while also being quite harsh. 

The Norwegian was in position to medal in both of his races with just 100m to run. Coming away with no hardware has to sting. 

Ingebrigtsen Calls Himself 'Biggest Loser'

Alberto Salazar

The four-year ban for the Nike Oregon Project head coach was a black cloud over the second half of the 2019 World Championships. While Salazar issued a response to the ruling stating his intention to appeal, his athletes were left to awkwardly speak on his behalf without having announced if they planned to stick with NOP or not.  

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400m World Champ Salwa Eid Naser Suspended For Whereabouts Failures


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Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, the 2019 400m world champion and the third-fastest woman of all-time, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for whereabouts failures.

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