The USA’s Fred Kerley has won the World Athletics Championships 100m title in a thrilling race at Hayward Field in Oregon. The 27-year-old led home a USA sweep of the podium as Marvin Bracy came second and Trayvon Bromell won bronze.
In a super-tight finish to a difficult-to-predict competition, Kerley finished the race in 9.86 seconds to claim gold in front of an ecstatic Hayward Field crowd. Following just behind him, Bracy and Bromell could hardly be separated, with both finishing on 9.88 seconds and a photo finish deciding the medal order.
This is the first World Championships in history to take place on US soil and the stadium erupted when the three medallists were presented to them.
And Kerley, who only dropped down to 100m in 2021 having competed at the last Worlds at 400m, was eager to share the special moment with his compatriots and teammates, as the USA boosted their medal count by three in the space of less than 10 seconds.
“The job was done at the finish line today. I held my composure and finished with the top time,” he said after his victory., before later adding: “Feels amazing to do it on home soil with the crowd behind you. We said that USA was gonna do it and we got the job done today.”
READ MORE: Here’s a look at the daily schedule and highlights
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about these Track and Field World Championships
Kerley owns favourite tag as he upgrades Tokyo 2020 silver to world gold
Kerley went into the 100m final with the fastest time in the world this year, having posted 9.76 in the semi-finals of the US trials, with Bromell just 0.05 seconds slower with a season’s best of 9.81 and Bracy joint-third fastest with a time of 9.85.
But all that counts for little when nothing short of a World Championships gold medal is at stake.
If proof were needed that this was a hard-to-predict race, the semi-finals had already taken some big scalps, with Canada’s Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse and the third-fastest man ever over the 100m distance, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, succumbing in the penultimate race of the competition.
Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs hadn’t even made it as far as that, with injury forcing the Italian out of the competition before the semi-finals had even begun.
It left the championship race poised on a knife edge, with all but one of the eight finalists, Canada’s Aaron Brown, dipping under 10 seconds on at least one occasion this season.
In the end, it was the American trio that will share the podium when the medals are handed out tomorrow, as the home crowd witnessed something truly special in Oregon.
READ MORE: Marcell Jacobs out of World Champs 100m
The unorthodox journey of a 100m world champion
Kerley’s path to this World Championships win has been less than standard. Until recently, the Texas-born sprinter was a 400m specialist, even winning bronze in the event at the last Worlds in Doha.
“The bigger plan is still the 400m in the coming years,” he said in a recent interview with FloTrack. “Right now I’m just focusing on getting my speed up so I can make history.”
But after his performance at the Olympics in Tokyo last year, when he won an impressive silver behind eventual champion Jacobs of Italy, and his stunning win today in Oregon, it will be difficult for him to leave the 100m distance behind. Even if the new world champion is reluctant to admit it.
“In a couple of months I’ll probably do the 400 again,” he said after his win today.
In fact, Kerley only turned to the 100m after the COVID-19 pandemic struck and his local track was closed. However, he admitted to feeling pride at having won an event he does not readily call his own.
“If it was 2020 I probably wouldn’t be in this position, I’d probably be doing 400,” he said, looking back on the incredible transformation he has undergone.
“It means a lot, I come from something that not too many 400 [runners] did, so it means a lot.”
And whichever path he chooses, whichever distance he runs, Kerley can look forward to the next stage in his career knowing that he has achieved today what few men before him have ever achieved.
“The future is bright,” the new world 100m champion said.