Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce surged to an unprecedented fourth 100m crown and US legend Allyson Felix broke Usain Bolt’s gold medal record tally as the returning new mothers lit up the World Championships here.
Fraser-Pryce and Felix, both racing in their first major championships since taking time off from the sport to have children, lit up a pulsating day three of competition even if the action was played out inside a near-empty Khalifa Stadium on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who skipped the 2017 championships to give birth to her first child, delivered a barnstorming run to take the 100m in 10.71sec. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith took silver with a time of 10.83sec while Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou claimed bronze in 10.90sec.
Fraser-Pryce was in control from the gun, rocketing out of the blocks and taking the lead in the opening 20 metres.
From that point there was only going to be one winner, and the veteran Jamaican swept over the line majestically to add to the world titles won in 2009, 2013 and 2015.
The two-time Olympic champion’s dominant display was the highlight of a day three which also saw US track queen Felix win a record 12th World Championship gold medal. Felix only returned to the sport in July after a 13-month layoff which saw her give birth to her daughter Camryn by emergency C-section last November. The 33-year-old took gold in the 4x400m mixed relay as the United States motored to victory in a world record time of 3min 09.34sec.
Felix’s 12th gold medal broke Jamaican legend Bolt’s record tally of 11 World Championship gold medals. Overall, Felix now has an incredible 26 medals, a dazzling haul that also includes six Olympic golds. Felix has accumulated more World Championship and Olympic honours than any other track and field athlete in history.
“So special, to have my daughter here watching means the world to me,” Felix said afterwards. “It’s been a crazy year for me.”
There was another victory for a returning mother, the women’s 20km race walk, where China’s 2016 Olympic champion Liu Hong won gold.
Liu, 32, who took a maternity break from 2017-2018, shrugged off steamy heat and humidity to lead a Chinese sweep of the medals in 1hr 32min 53sec and secure her third world title. Qieyang Shenjie took silver in 1:33:10 while compatriot Yang Liujing won bronze in 1:33:17.
Elsewhere, triple jump king Christian Taylor completed a superb hat-trick of World Championship titles after surviving near elimination in a nerve-jangling final. He clinched gold with a leap of 17.92m. Will Claye took silver with a best jump of 17.74m. Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango claimed bronze.
In the women’s pole vault, Anzhelika Sidorova — competing under the Authorised Neutral Athlete banner due to the ban on Russia — won with a vault of 4.95 metres.
Mass pullouts in 200m
On Monday, Asher-Smith powered her way into the 200 metres semifinals, with a gold medal up for grabs following a high-profile withdrawals.
Asher-Smith will be licking her lips at the prospect of 200m gold after clocking 22.32 seconds in the opening heats.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce pulled out due to the effort put in on Sunday for the 100m while Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou picked up an injury.
Dafne Schippers, 200m champion at the last two worlds, pulled out of the 100m final with a strained adductor and decided she was not fit enough to defend her crown.