Steeplechaser Jeruto plunges into water after gold at worlds

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Steeplechaser Norah Jeruto came up with a cool way to celebrate her victory at the end of a sizzling hot day at the world championships.

A pool party. Everyone was invited, too.

The Kenyan-born runner who recently began representing Kazakhstan moved to the backstretch following her win Wednesday and took the plunge — straight into the event's water pit.

A moment later, the Jeruto was joined by her two Ethiopian competitors, runner-up Werkuha Getachew and bronze medallist Mekides Abebe. Not wanting to be left out, Legend, the mascot for these championships, jumped in, too.

Jeruto finished in a championship-record 8 minutes, 53.02 seconds to hold off Getachew by 1.59 seconds.

“The weather was good here. I enjoyed my race today,” Jeruto said. “At the starting line, I was afraid of my friends from Ethiopia. They are also champions like me so I was scared of them. I tried my best to win the race and it was not easy. It was tough.”

It was a tough day for Emma Coburn, a two-time world medalist in the event who faded late and finished eighth.

“Disappointing,” Coburn said. “I went for it and it didn’t pay off.”

It was a warm one at Hayward Field with temperatures hovering around 33 Celsius. To stay cool, many athletes donned ice vests before competing, wore sunglasses while racing and wrapped cold towels around their shoulders when finished.

But Jeruto may have had the best solution — go for a swim and splash around.

The steeplechase was one of two events that handed out medals on a night where the stands were far from packed. Feng Bin of China was a surprise winner in the women’s discus, beating runner-up Sandra Perkovic of Croatia and Olympic champion Valarie Allman, who finished with bronze. Feng earned the victory with her first throw.

“Truly, it's bittersweet,” said Allman, who earned the first world medal in the women's discus for the U.S. “I just couldn't find that big throw. It's good to walk out with a medal."

Sydney McLaughlin coolly cruised through her semifinal heat of the 400-metre hurdles. Hardly pressed and conserving energy near the finish, the Olympic champion and world-record holder finished in a time of 52.17 seconds at the world championships Wednesday night.

That's fast for never kicking into overdrive.

It might be another sign that her record of 51.41 — set on this track nearly a month ago — could fall yet again. The final is Friday and includes all three medalists from the Tokyo Games — McLaughlin, silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad and bronze medalist Femke Bol of the Netherlands.

“It was a good day to get faster,” said McLaughlin, who improved on her first-round time by almost two seconds. “I just want to be free, give all I have and leave it all on the track.”

On deck, another epic showdown.

“I still have something left, of course,” Bol said. “I am ready for a good final.”

Wednesday also marked both the beginning and end of Caster Semenya’s stay at worlds. She finished 13th and did not advance through her 5,000 qualifying heat. She ran the longer distance because she is banned from her specialty, the 800, due to rules that demand she take hormone-reducing drugs to enter certain races.

The Americans suffered a blow when world 100-metre champion Fred Kerley was knocked out of the 4x100 relay due to a quadriceps injury. He was hurt while running the semifinals of the 200.

Kerley was a 400-metre specialist who moved down in distance before last year’s Olympics. He won silver in the 100 in Tokyo, then the gold in Eugene last Saturday as part of an American medals sweep that also included Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell.

The season is over for defending 800 world champion Donavan Brazier, who struggled in his first-round heat and didn't advance.

Next stop, surgery.

Brazier will undergo a procedure to shave down bone in his heel and in an effort to return to the form in 2019, when he won at worlds in Doha.

“It makes it very hard to go from being the best in the world, to next next week I’ll be on crutches,” Brazier said. “That really sucks. It makes me feel like I’m an injury-prone athlete. I don’t want to be that one-and-done runner.”

Marco Arop watched in shock as Canadian teammate Brandon McBride crashed in his rough-and-tumble heat of the 800 metres.

Running minutes later, Arop's biggest concern was just to stay on his feet.

The 23-year-old from Edmonton recorded the fastest time of the 800 heats — despite running much of the race out in Lane 2.

"I was just trying to avoid a collision," Arop said. "I saw Brandon in the previous heat, and I was just trying to avoid that at all costs. Even if I had to run the extra distance it was worth it."

According to the Canadian team's sport physiologist Trent Stellingwerff, Arop ran an extra 10 to 14 metres in his race, which equates to an extra 1.2 to 1.5 seconds.

"Dude is in unreal shape to run a 1:44 basically in Lane 2, controlling from the front off the back end," Stellingwerff said.

Arop ran one minute 44.56 seconds. Mexico's Jesus Tonatiu Lopez was second (1:44.67), while Ireland's Mark English was third (1:44.76).

McBride, the Canadian record-holder from Windsor, Ont., went down during some jostling on the backstretch of the first lap of his heat. He looked up at the fading field before getting back on his feet and finishing. But he never made up the 50-metre gap on the rest of the field.

The Canadian team submitted an appeal, but it was denied.

"Honestly, it all happened so fast, a lot of pushing, a lot of shoving," said McBride, who thought he might have got pushed or tripped over someone's leg.

When the 28-year-old — who said he was still "in shock" moments after the race — fell, his first thoughts were to get up and finish, in case there was a chance at a successful appeal.

"I can't really tell you how I'm feeling, but I'm proud of my journey, nonetheless," he said. "It's just unfortunate because I really would like an opportunity to showcase my fitness. Let's just hope I get an opportunity to do that."

Unfortunately he won't.

Elizabeth Gleadle of Vancouver, an 11-time national champion, qualified for the women's javelin final, with a throw of 60.38 metres, seventh best in qualifying.

Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan was the top qualifier (64.32).

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Pat Graham, The Associated Press

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