Paulino’s Triumph and Moon-Kennedy Tie Highlight Dramatic Day 5 at World Champs
Marileidy Paulino and Katie Moon, two North American, Central American, and Caribbean (NACAC) Area athletes, were crowned champions on the fifth day of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest 23.
Paulino exhibited a dominant performance on the track from lane seven, progressively surpassing her competitors to secure victory. She overtook her final opponent, Sada Williams, on the bend and surged down the home straight, progressively widening the gap with each stride. Paulino clocked in with a national record of 48.76, becoming the Dominican Republic’s first woman to clinch an individual world title. This achievement makes her the second individual world champion from her country, following two-time 400m hurdles winner Felix Sanchez. Paulino, 26, improved her former lifetime best by 0.22 seconds, elevating herself to the 11th position on the world all-time list.
“This national record means a lot to me. It is really incredible. But I have been preparing for this for a long time, working hard to achieve a goal like this. The gold medal was my dream, and I had the talent to turn this dream into reality,” Paulino shared.
Sada Williams, the Commonwealth champion, initiated her race from lane eight with a promising start, although she slightly faded. However, Williams rebounded in time to stave off Irish sensation Rhasidat Adeleke and secure her second consecutive bronze in 49.60, with Adeleke clocking 50.13. Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek secured second place in 49.57.
Williams expressed her mixed feelings, saying, “I am a bit disappointed because I was not able to do better than last year.” She continued by stating, “Winning back-to-back bronzes at the world championships means a lot because there are many top athletes in the 400m.”
Williams conveyed her determination for success, adding, “I’m still hungry for success, and hopefully, I can step onto the podium at the Olympic Games in Paris.”
In the Pole Vault event, American Katie Moon and Australian Nina Kennedy jointly earned the gold medal after both failed to clear the 4.90m height. The intense competition witnessed six women clearing 4.75m, marking the second-best depth in history after the 2019 World Championships in Doha. The medalists were determined after Slovenia’s Tina Sutej and Finland’s Wilma Murto faced three failures at 4.85m.
Kennedy and Moon both successfully cleared 4.90m on their third attempts, solidifying their place atop the leaderboard. With attempts at 4.95m unable to separate them, they shared the lead, each registering one previous failure at lower heights.
Moon expressed her contentment with sharing the gold medal, stating, “When the final started, I didn’t think sharing a gold medal would work for me, but now I am completely satisfied. What a battle it was.”
British Virgin Islands Kyron McMaster and American Rai Benjamin secured silver and bronze in the men’s 400m hurdles, as Karsten Warholm of Norway triumphed in 46.89.
McMaster claimed the silver in 47.34, followed closely by Benjamin with a bronze-winning time of 47.56. Jamaican Roshawn Clarke, who set a World U20 record in the semi-finals, finished fourth in 48.07.
Benjamin expressed his pride while acknowledging his desire for more, stating, “I am proud of myself, but I just wanted more.” McMaster echoed his sentiments, saying, “I fulfilled a part of my dream tonight.”
During the early morning session, world 100m champions Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson continued their pursuit of the sprint double. Lyles secured victory in his heat with a time of 20.05, while Richardson clocked 22.16.
Americans Kenneth Bednarek (20.01) and Erriyon Knighton (20.17), along with Canadians Aaron Brown (20.08) and Brendon Rodney (20.14), also progressed to the next round.
Defending champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica (22.51) and American Gabby Thomas (22.26) advanced to the women’s 200m semi-finals.
Jamaican Wayne Pinnock delivered a remarkable performance in the men’s long jump first round, setting the best mark of the last two years with an 8.54m leap.
The women’s sprint hurdles showcased Kendra Harrison’s continued dominance, as she led with a time of 12.33. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico (12.41), Devynee Charlton of the Bahamas (12.49), and American Nia Ali (12.49) secured their spots in the final.
USA maintained its leading position in the medal standings with 7 gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze medals. Great Britain followed with 2 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze, while Spain secured 2 gold medals.
Canada and the Dominican Republic both held one gold medal each, placing them joint 10th. Jamaica claimed two silver and one bronze, and Cuba secured one silver and one bronze medal. British Virgin Islands and Barbados contributed a silver and a bronze, respectively, to the Area teams’ standings.
BY ANTHONY FOSTER FOR THE NACAC ATHLETICS