Deji’s Doodles: Warholm goes gung-ho in the 400m in Istanbul, Jacobs comes unstuck in the 60m, Bol remains undefeated and in Tokyo, Rosemary Wanjiru moves to sixth all-time in the women’s marathon
What a weekend! The European Indoor championships in Istanbul was a spectacle for athletics fans as we witnessed breathtaking athletics all around. From Karsten Warholm running a ruthless 400m to dive at the end to Femke Bol showing why she’s the quarter-miler to watch out for this season and Marcell Jacobs coming unstuck to an unknown sprinter. Over in Japan, we saw the Tokyo marathon go down, and the depth of the marathon, especially on the women’s side, is just on another scale as Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru moved to sixth all-time with her victory in the Asian city.
Fearless or Foolish from Karsten Warholm?
Every single time Karsten Warholm laces his spikes to run, there will always be a chunk of the audience that questions his running style. It defies conventional wisdom, but he almost wins. Until last year when a hamstring injury derailed the defense of his 400m Hurdles title. Warholm holds multiple titles across the board in the event, including Olympic and world titles.
He also is the world record holder with 45.94s, so it feels strange for people to question his running approach. But the problem with that is it will most often come up when he loses a race or is on the verge of one, as seen with the defense of his European 400m indoor title. Warholm came charging the first 200m in Istanbul like a bulldog (even a bulldog loses steam at some point and begins to tire out), ripping through that half with reckless abandon in 20.84.
Now there is a very thin line between fearless and foolish, and for the most part, people don’t know when they end up crossing it. For Warholm, he was within whiskers of his approach, being a foolish one. When he hit 300m in an astonishing 32.32, he had very little in the tank to push on. He did push and held on for the win as he brazed the odds to win in 45.35s as Belgium’s Julien Watrin closed fast to set a national record of 45.44.
Karston Warholm battles Julien Watrn in 400m, photo by Chiara Montasano for European Athletics.
At some point, Warholm would have to rethink this approach, especially when he comes up against much stiffer opposition. His body isn’t in the stellar shape it used to be, considering he’s just coming back from injury. Adapting to evolving circumstances is just part of elite sport. The goal is to win anyway, and the Norwegian seem to be pretty good at it.
Marcell Jacobs loses his European 60m title, cops an injury.
What the heck is happening to Marcell Jacobs? How did he fumble the men’s 60m final at the European championships that he ended up losing to a guy whose Personal Best in the 100m is 10.45 in the 100m and who had not run inside 6.6s in the 60m until this year? No offense to Samuel Ceccarelli (who beat Jacobs at the Italian Nationals), but it was expected for the Olympic champion to get back to winning ways.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – MARCH 04: Gold Medallist Samuele Ceccarelli of Italy and Silver Medallist Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy pose following the Men’s 60m Final during Day 2 of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Atakoy Arena on March 04, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for European Athletics)
Ceccarelli ended up beating Jacobs twice in the span of two weeks to end his compatriots’ reign as the best in Europe over the distance. He won with a newly minted Personal Best of 6.47s. More disturbing, though, is what this portends for Jacobs. Glaringly, it is obvious the Olympic Champion has issues with managing his body and the wear and tear it suffers after coming back from injuries.
Jacobs seemed to have pulled a hamstring in the semifinals, and just as a precaution (like he did at the world championships in Oregon), he should have opted not to run the final. As we know, he eventually did, and the outcome made the decision to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – MARCH 04: Gold Medallist Samuele Ceccarelli of Italy celebrates following the Men’s 60m Final during Day 2 of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Atakoy Arena on March 04, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
The likes of Bolt managed scoliosis for the better part of his career, Michael Johnson had niggling injuries, and Elaine Thompson-Herah struggled with her Achilles too. The point is, almost now, the top athlete has their smooth sailing as their bodies are different. Jacobs will have to learn this lesson soon rather than later.
Femke Bol is going to do something special in the outdoor season after capping her indoor season with another European title.
Who’s going to stop Femke Bol this season? We seem to bring up this statement every time she wins a race. There is a growing sense that the Dutch sprinter is getting close to Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone each passing day, and her recent win in which she clocked 49.85 over the 400m in Istanbul further underlines this.
Three sub-50 seconds indoors this year is no child’s play. The win gives her the impetus to challenge over the 400m and 400 mH
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – MARCH 04: Femke Bol of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the Women’s 400m Final during Day 2 of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Atakoy Arena on March 04, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
outdoors when it starts. Adjusting her times to just the single lap compared to the double it takes to run indoors is an indicator of how fast she will run.
Maybe a 48.5 in the 400m or a 50.8 in the 400 mH. We can’t tell exactly for now. However, what this win does for her is put her in the right stead to build on whatever weaknesses she had prior to 2023.
Femke Bol flies on 4x400m in Istanbul, photo by Chiara Montesano for European Athletics
Mujinga Kambudji looks good to challenge the established order after a 60m indoor victory in Istanbul.
Swiss Sprinter Mujinga Kambudji has been around for a while. Having ruffled feathers with some of the big wigs in the sport, there is a growing feeling that she might not just cut it when it matters most at the world championships or Olympic games.
Mujinga Kambundji celebrates her 60m victory! Photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
However, Kambudji is carving a niche for herself as one of the most dominant 60m indoor athletes of all time. Over the weekend in Istanbul, she snagged yet another European title to beat Ewa Swoboda in a season’s best of 7.00s. It adds to the world indoor title she won in Belgrade last year.
The win breathed new life into her season, restored pride, and gave her renewed hope that she can challenge in the 100m this year. Her PB outdoors stands at 10.89s. Most likely, she will need to run sub-10.8s low if she has any chance of contending for a world title in Budapest this summer.
Mujinga Kambundji ran 7.05 in 3rd semi-final! Photo by European Athletics
Rosemary Wanjiru jumps into sixth all-time in the marathon after winning in Tokyo.
Something is going on in the marathon (mostly the women’s marathon). On Sunday, Rosemary Wanjiru surged to No.6 on the women’s world marathon all-time list. The Kenyan ran 2:16:28, winning by 28 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu, who also dipped under 2:17, herself becoming just the eighth woman to ever achieve the feat.
As it stands, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei owns the marathon world record with 2:14:04 from her run in Chicago in 2019, while her countrywoman Ruth Chepngetich coming close with another 2:14:18 run this year.
Rosemary Wanjiru wins Tokyo Marathon, in 2:16.28, photo courtesy of TCS London Marathon
Over the course of 2020, we have seen various records go down and insanely fast split times. In less than eighteen months, there have been over twenty performances by 12 women who have broken the sub-2:18:00 barrier.
In 2022 Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa ran a blistering 2:15:37 in Berlin, Chepngetich came within touching distance of breaking Kosgei’s record in Chicago a few weeks later, Yehualaw made her marathon debut with 2:17:23 in Hamburg earlier this year, former Olympic Champion Almaz Ayana went three seconds better than Yehualaw on her debut in Amsterdam while Letesenbet Gidey became the fastest marathon debutant with her 2:16:49 run in Valencia.
Don’t be surprised if Kosgei’s record goes down this year.