Grant Holloway, Sandi Morris, Ajee Wilson Claim Indoor Track World Titles
by Chrös McDougall
Sandi Morris poses during the women's pole vault medal ceremony during the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 2022 on March 19, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Olympic medalist Sandi Morris defended her women’s pole vault title while reigning Olympic champ Katie Nageotte was just behind her at the indoor track and field world championships this weekend in Belgrade, Serbia.
Their performances highlighted a strong U.S. showing at the world championships, where American athletes led all countries with 19 medals, including three of them gold. Only Ethiopia had more gold medals with four.
An expected showdown between Morris and Nageotte at last summer’s Olympic Games was not to be after Morris’ pole broke on a rainy night in Tokyo, leading her to withdraw citing injury. There was no such bad luck Saturday in Belgrade. The American duo came into the event tied for the best mark this season, and Morris held on to win by clearing 4.80 meters to Nageotte’s 4.75 m.
“After a year like last year, when I was injured for the Olympics, you feel you have to prove yourself again,” Morris told the World Athletics website. “We’re so hard on ourselves and I wanted to go out and prove it to myself that I could still do it at this level.
“Today was about me fighting off my own internal demons. Doing it back-to-back was amazing, and doing it with my teammate and now training partner Katie was really special.”
Sunday was a special day for Grant Holloway as well. The reigning Olympic silver medalist in the men’s 110 hurdles, Holloway equaled his own world record during the semifinals of the 60-meter hurdles, clocking in at 7.29 seconds. He was a tenth slower in the final at 7.39 but still easily won over France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (7.50) to claim his first indoor world title. Team USA’s Jarret Eaton was third at 7.53.
Ajee Wilson celebrates after winning the women's 800-metres during the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 2022 on March 20, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Two-time Olympian Ajee Wilson was the other U.S. winner, claiming the women’s 800-meter title in 1:59.09 on Sunday. The gold medal follows silvers at the 2018 and 2016 world indoor meet.
In one of the weekend’s bigger upsets, two-time Olympic champ and indoor and outdoor world record holder Ryan Crouser ended up second in the men’s shot put Saturday, with his opening throw of 22.44 m proving to be his best but not quite enough to overcome Brazil’s Darlan Romani, who won his first major championship with a throw of 22.53 m.
In another anticipated showdown Saturday, Italy’s Marcell Jacobs, the defending Olympic men’s 100-meter champ, and Team USA’s Christian Coleman ran to what appeared to be a dead heat in the 60-meter, with both clocking in at 6.41. However, extending their times to the thousandth, Jacobs won in 6.407 to Coleman’s 6.410.
Coleman, the world-record holder and defending world champion in the event, missed last summer’s Tokyo Games because of missed drug tests. Another American, 2016 Olympian Marvin Bracy, was third in 6.44.
In addition to the women’s pole vault and men’s 60-meter, two Americans also reached the podium in the women’s 60-meter, with Mikiah Brisco (6.99 seconds) taking second and Marybeth Sant-Price (7.04) third.
Other U.S. silver medalists in Belgrade included Trevor Bassitt (men’s 400), Chase Ealey (women’s shot put) and Elinor Purrier St. Pierre (women’s 3,000).
Six other Americans are coming home with bronze medals: Gabbi Cunningham (women’s 60-meter hurdles), Marquis Dendy (men’s long jump), Bryce Hoppel (men’s 800), Christopher Nilsen (men’s pole vault), Donald Scott (men’s triple jump) and Kendell Williams (women’s pentathlon).
This year’s event marked the first indoor world championships since 2018. A world indoor championships originally scheduled for March 2020 in Nanjing, China, was postponed due to the pandemic and is now set to be made up in 2023. Typically the competition takes place on even-numbered years, with the outdoor world championships being on odd-numbered years.
The 2021 outdoor world championships were also postponed and will now take place this July in Eugene, Oregon, marking the first time that event is held in the U.S.