What You May Have Missed at the 2022 World Track and Field Championships

Let us update you on what’s happened so far in Eugene, Oregon––in between our crying fits, of course.

By Alexandra Cadet

Your favorite athletes are off to the races, as the 2022 World Athletics Championships have begun. Despite proceedings getting started only recently, the action in Eugene is already heating up…both figuratively and literally. So we’re here to catch fans up to speed on anything they might’ve missed, from the conclusion of a legendary career to the final step in a journey for gold. Without further ado, here’s what you might’ve missed at the World Track & Field Championships thus far. 

Allyson Felix ran her final race last Friday, winning bronze as part of the 4×400 mixed relay team / World Athletics Twitter

We’ll Always Have the Memories

(If we’re being honest, it’s unlikely that anyone missed this development, but Allyson Felix is too legendary for our discussion to get hung up on semantics. So, excuse us as we wax poetic about her for a couple of paragraphs.)

Allyson Felix––an undisputed legend of the track––won bronze in her final competitive appearance last Friday. She earned the honor as part of Team USA’s 4×400 mixed relay squad, which vaguely echoed her final Olympic gold medal grab in Tokyo 2020. Fans knew that the day of her official retirement was coming, but seeing it in action still felt bittersweet. And predictably, her final bow provoked a serious question: how do we properly celebrate and honor a legend once they’ve ridden off into the sunset?

The answer is simple: we cry. Then, we cry some more. And finally, once the tears have dried, we luxuriate in the past for a little while. Felix had a movie-worthy career, filled with euphoric highs and hard-fought battles; each moment served as a testament to the athlete she is today. So what better way to celebrate her next chapter than cherishing her previous one? “[The sport has] broken my heart many times, but I’ve also had many really joyous moments,” Felix said while preparing for the relay. “I’m going to miss it so much.” Fans, athletes, and journalists alike will miss Felix’s heyday too––but thanks to her, we’ll always have beautiful memories.

(Now, excuse us once again while we cry for a bit longer. And please do not talk to us for the next two business days.)

She. Is. Speed.

Abby Steiner really is that athlete. She made it through the 200m semi-final on Tuesday by placing second in her heat with a time of 22.15, right behind Jamaican superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. “I think when you have a lane, anything can happen,” Steiner said after the semi-final race. “So I’m definitely going to go in there ready to compete, ready to give it my best effort out there and leave it all on the track Thursday night.” Luckily, Steiner followed through on her word to give her all: she finished fifth in Thursday’s final amidst a crowded, competitive field of athletes.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of Steiner’s career is how she became the best of the best with such literal and metaphorical speed. Barely over a month ago, she was blowing minds and snagging medals at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. But now? She has a nationals win under her belt––and was in with a shout of a World title. Even though she didn’t win the final, the fact that she went from standing out in her collegiate league to standing tall amongst the greatest in the world so quickly is awe-inspiring––and it hints that we’ll be hearing her name for years to come. 

The Sunday Sweep

Don’t look now, but it appears that the 100m event didn’t go all that badly for Jamaica. Not only did Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson, and Elaine Thompson-Herah sweep the podium for their country, but the former athlete managed to regain her claim to being the fastest woman in the world. All in all, not a horrible day at the office, we guess.

Putting all sarcasm aside, the result on Sunday night is yet another victory for a dynasty that was already introduced via the all-Jamaican 100m podium at Tokyo 2020. Clearly, nothing much has changed in a year––which speaks to the massive talent and consistency that Fraser-Pryce, Jackson, and Thompson-Herah all possess. “Imagine producing the top 3 female sprinters in the world from a population of 2.8M! It’s an amazing feeling to show the world what’s possible on home soil,” Fraser-Pryce shared in an Instagram caption on Tuesday. If their Sunday sweep was any indication, we have a feeling that they’ll continue to show the world just how powerful they are. 

The Path to Golden Greatness

This year’s World Championship has almost every type of athlete-focused narrative so far: the retiring legend, the talented upstart, and the world-beating tag-team. But if there’s a runner whose story may be the most inspiring to fans, it’s Letesenbet Gidey’s. A world-class long-distance runner from Ethiopia, Gidey had all of the right qualities to grab at least one Olympic or World gold medal during her career. But despite winning a bronze in Tokyo and a silver at 2019 Worlds, she never quite managed to reach the top of the podium, in part due to the unrelenting brilliance of reigning Olympic champion Sifan Hassan and 5,000m superstar Hellen Obiri.

That all changed on Saturday. She won the 10,000m event in Eugene, finally getting the gold medal she’d always craved. “The dream came true, this victory is even more important to me than a world record,” Gidey said after her win. “I was thinking about winning this gold since 2019, but Hassan was always there. I was also watching Obiri. This time, I was really watching them and I knew I had to be very fast in the last 300m.” Gidey’s quest for gold is certainly a story of talent, but it’s also one of extreme, long-lasting resilience––and sometimes, that type of resilience is what makes sports worth watching.

With the competition still unfolding, fans can bet that there’ll be even more stories in Eugene to follow. But until those developments come, sit back and enjoy the ride––hopefully in a more ideal climate
A full, updating list of winners at the World Track & Field Championship can be found here.

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