World Championships draw to a close: Q and A after 10 days of competition in Doha

By Nick Mashiter, PA, Doha

The World Championships in Doha ended on Sunday with Dina Asher-Smith having claimed an historic hat-trick of medals.

Here, the PA news agency answers some questions which have arisen after 10 days of competition in Qatar.

Was it a success for Great Britain?

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Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith added 200m gold to her medal haul (Martin Rickett/PA)
Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith added 200m gold to her medal haul (Martin Rickett/PA)

Asher-Smith’s historic hat-trick and Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s brilliant heptathlon victory deservedly take the headlines. Relay medals helped boost the tally to five – but the squad still fell short of the target of between seven and nine podium finishes. There is an over-reliance on the big names, especially when medal hopes Adam Gemili, Holly Bradshaw and Zharnel Hughes leave empty-handed, and it was laid bare in Doha.

What does it mean ahead of the 2020 Olympics for Team GB?

Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson inflicted Nafi Thiam’s first defeat since 2016 (Martin Rickett/PA)
Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson inflicted Nafi Thiam’s first defeat since 2016 (Martin Rickett/PA)

Asher-Smith will face a stacked field in Tokyo with all of her main rivals either not running the 200 metres or pulling out in Doha. She underlined her world-class quality but it will be much more difficult in Japan. Johnson-Thompson has set up a titanic battle with defending Olympic champion with Nafi Thiam which is likely to be one of the highlights of next summer. Other track and field athletes are close to a breakthrough but will need to improve to avoid being left behind in Tokyo.

How will the Championships be remembered?

The Khalifa International Stadium was often largely empty (Mike Egerton/PA)
The Khalifa International Stadium was often largely empty (Mike Egerton/PA)

Athletics’ governing body the IAAF wants to take the sport across the globe and should be applauded. But low crowds, although they did improve, and the heat grabbed the headlines in Doha while suggestions fans were bussed in never went away. Enduring images for fans will be empty seats at the Khalifa International Stadium and it will be difficult to remember the overall Championships as anything but a near miss.

Has athletics lost its momentum?

Usain Bolt retired after the London World Championships two years ago (Yui Mok/PA)
Usain Bolt retired after the London World Championships two years ago (Yui Mok/PA)

Not quite – but it was always a risk taking the World Championships to the Middle East. The sport is still struggling to emerge from the shadow of Usain Bolt two years after he retired following London 2017. IAAF president Lord Coe knows it needs a new star and, while Asher-Smith shone, she does not yet have the stardust of Bolt.

Did Alberto Salazar’s ban affect the Championships?

Lord Coe emphatically denied Salazar’s four-year ban, which was handed out last week by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, cast a shadow over the Championships. Sifan Hassan, coached by Salazar, triumphed in the women’s 10,000m and 1500m. The American has such a big presence within the sport, news of his ban sent shockwaves around the Doha event. It is hard to overlook the controversy it heaped on the sport during one of its showpiece events.

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