Athletics

Bad start bothers Usain Bolt; Mo Farah strikes gold; Disappointment for Ciara Mageean

Great Britain's Mo Farah celebrates winning the men's 10,000m final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium
By Malcolm McCausland

SIR Mo Farah completed the first stage of his golden track finale after a thrilling defence of his 10,000 metres title at the World Championships.

The 34-year-old, who will retire from the track later this month, won in 26 minutes 49.51 seconds to claim his sixth world title.

Farah shrugged off continued doping allegations to mount a second defence of the 10,000m in London after victories in Moscow in 2013 and Beijing two years ago.

USAIN Bolt was left furious with his performance, despite moving a step closer to a golden goodbye as he cruised through the 100m heats at the World Championships in London.

Back at the stadium where the Jamaican declared himself a “living legend” after retaining his 100m and 200m titles at the 2012 Olympics, the 30-year-old had to recover from an awful start to win his heat in 10.07s.

Bolt, who is bringing the curtain down on his glittering career at these championships, was met with the customary huge cheers whenever he appeared on the big screen.

He whispered “number one” when the camera panned to him on the start line, but the shake of the head at the finish was proof he was less than happy with his run.

Bolt’s start has been his chief – perhaps only – problem throughout his career, no great surprise for a sprinter who stands 6ft 5in.

“That was very bad,” Bolt said.

“I stumbled coming out of the blocks. I’m not very fond of these blocks. I think these are the worst ones I’ve ever experienced. I have to get this start together because I can’t keep doing this.

“It’s shaky. When I did my warm-up it (the blocks) pushed back. It is just not what I am used to, not as sturdy or firm.’’

The individual career of the world’s greatest ever sprinter, and by common consensus the world’s greatest ever athlete and track and field’s entertainer-in-chief, has just one more day to run.

Today he will look to pocket a 12th world title, to go with his eight Olympic crowns and an underwhelming farewell is almost unthinkable.

He said earlier in the week he wanted to be remembered as “unbeatable” and “unstoppable”. He is determined to remain, even in his first two years of retirement, the world champion.

He has had a troubled build-up, the death of close friend Germaine Mason, the former Great Britain high jumper, in a motorbike accident affecting him so deeply that he did not train for three weeks.

But Bolt has grown accustomed to defying doubters and delivering on the big stage.

CIARA Mageean crashed out of the 1500m in last night’s opening session of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

The 25-year-old never looked like qualifying in a heat stacked with World, Olympic and European champions and eventually struggled home well adrift of the main field and the six automatic qualifying spots.

Drawn on the outside, the UCD student was at the back of the field from the first 100m. And having only run one high quality 1500m this season, she seemed to lack the tactical nous to emerge from not only such a quality field but one that contained 14 starters of proven ability.

Great Britain’s Jessica Judd showed how it should be done taking the initiative from the gun and leading through laps of 64.53s, 2:11.44s and 3:14.59s. Her reward was a sixth and qualifying spot while the Portaferry woman got caught up in traffic before fading badly over the final 200m.

Ethiopia’s Genzebe was the winner of the heat in 4:02.67s from Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya with Mageean back in 13th in 4:10.60s. Scotland’s Laura Muir qualified comfortably from the second heat with a fourth place in 4:08.97s.

A busy weekend in London continues for Irish athletes.

Brian Gregan lines up in this morning’s 400m heats on the back of six straight victories culminating in the national championships two weeks ago.

Gregan went four years without a personal best until he clocked 45.48s in Geneva at the start of July. He broke it again with a personal best and stadium record 45.28s mark at the Morton Meeting some days later. The Clonliffe Harrier should now have David Gillick’s national record of 44.77s in his sights.

Mark English is next up at lunchtime in the heats of the 800m. The UCD medical student, who missed the indoor season through injury, comes into today’s heats with a seasonal best of 1:45.42s that places him 28th of the competitors in the event. However, English’s strong finish should see him progress to the semi-finals on Sunday night.

Tomorrow morning, Olympic fourth-placer Thomas Barr kicks off in the heats of the 400m hurdles with the hope that he can match or improve on his performance in Rio. That might be a tall order for the Waterford man who has struggled this season to capture that form but who looked more like his old self when winning his seventh national title recently.

In the absence of Hollywood doctor Paul Pollock, a late withdrawal through injury, Mick Clohisey and Sean Hehir represent Ireland in the men’s marathon that starts in the shadow of the historic Tower of London.

Cork’s Claire McCarthy is the solitary Irish runner in the women’s race that follows in the afternoon.

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