Brazilian 400m hurdler wins world title in style in Eugene, while in the discus the giant Kristjan Ceh strikes gold

Going into the men’s 400m hurdles final in Eugene, the smart money was on Alison dos Santos. After Karsten Warholm tore his hamstring in June, the world record-holder’s form was uncertain. Dos Santos, on the other hand, had been in brilliant form all summer.

So it proved as the athletes entered the home straight in one of the most anticipated races of the championships on Tuesday (July 19). Whereas the Brazilian pushed on at that point, extending his lead before charging through the finish in 46.29, the Norwegian began to go backwards. Even the most talented athletes turn into mere mortals if they have not been able to do enough training and Warholm discovered this as he faded to seventh.

The Olympic champion’s time of 48.42 was, remarkably, only seven hundredths of a second slower than he ran when taking global gold in London in 2017. But the event has moved on and Dos Santos’ mark was a South American record.

Behind Dos Santos, American athletes took silver and bronze with Rai Benjamin running 46.89 and Trevor Bassitt clocking 47.39.

Alison Dos Santos with Karsten Warholm (Getty)

Dos Santos only turned 22 last month and comes from a humble background. He grew up in São Paulo without much money and his first sport was judo before he turned to athletics.

He is now part of a fine tradition of Brazilian athletics that includes recent global pole vault champions like Thiago Braz and Fabiana Murer, Olympic 800m gold medallist Joaquim Cruz and the double Olympic triple jump champion from the 1950s, Adhemar da Silva.

“I am so happy. The energy of the crowd was amazing,” Dos Santos said. “I felt their love, people hugging me. When you win, you start being everyone’s favourite.”

Runner-up Benjamin saw him build up disrupted by Covid and said: “My season has been rough, but I dug deep and it turned out this way, I am grateful for silver. I got it done. I chopped a few hurdles and my race plan went out the window, but when I heard ‘USA! USA!’ I ran as fast as I could to keep my second place.”

It was not a good night for Norway because 1500m favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen had suffered a surprise defeat moments earlier.

Warholm said: “Today I went all or nothing. Unfortunately it was nothing but I hope to do better next time.”

Superman Čeh takes discus gold

With a giant muscular physique and black spectacles perched on his face, Kristjan Čeh has something of a Clark Kent look going on.

In the third round of the World Championships discus final he turned into Superman too when he unleashed a 71.13m throw that would ultimately win the contest by almost two metres.

Later, he walked off the track with a Slovenian flag draped around his shoulders like a cape.

For Čeh it was a championship record as he defeated up-and-coming star Mykolas Alekna, who threw 69.27m, with Andrius Gudzius throwing 67.55m for bronze.

Kristjan Ceh (Getty)

Alekna incidentally is the son of 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion Virgilijus. And Alekna Snr held the championships record of 70.17m that Čeh smashed too.

Both Alekna and Gudzius represent Lithuania, whereas a duo of Swedish athletes – Olympic champion Daniel Stahl and Simon Petersson – placed fourth and fifth.

When Čeh made his World Champs debut in 2019 he finished 31st out of 32 in the qualifying rounds. A giant even by elite discus thrower standards, he is now aiming to end a golden summer with victory at the European Championships in Munich. Given that the top five in Eugene were from Europe, this will be no mean task either.

» To catch up with all our reports from Eugene, CLICK HERE