Local hero Centrowitz wins thrilling 1500m as World Indoor Championships come to an end

 

Hometown favourite Matthew Centrowitz battled to victory in a closely-contested 1500 metres final as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Indoor Championships came to a close at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland today.

The 26-year-old timed his run to perfection to overtake New Zealand’s Nick Willis in the home straight and win gold with a time of 3 min 44.22sec.

Defending champion Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti stepped up the pace at the front from four laps out but it wasn’t until Willis took the lead with 400m remaining that the race sprung into life.

Centrowitz reacted straight away, moving ahead of Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde to put himself into pole position behind Willis for the final sprint to the line.

Willis turned into the home straight with a one-metre advantage, but he was unable to hold off Centrowitz who landed his first world title.

Czech Republic’s Jakub Holusa came from seventh place at the bell to snatch the runners-up spot from Willis by just seven hundredths of a second with a time of 3:44.30. 

“I wanted it very bad,” said Centrowitz.

“I found the push from the crowd at the end.

“They got me through that last 50.”

There was further success for the United States in the women’s high jump and men’s long jump as Vashti Cunningham and Marquis Dendy won the respective events to secure their first world crowns.

Cunningham, the 18-year-old daughter of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall, had a perfect series between 1.84m and 1.96m with her first-time clearance at the latter height proving decisive.

Spain’s Ruth Beitia and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko needed two attempts to go clear, while Lithuania’s Airine Palsyte joined them at 1.99m after going clear on her third attempt.

All four recorded three failures at 1.99m, giving Cunningham the gold medal ahead of Beitia in second and Licwinko in third.  

Dendy edged an equally close men’s long jump final which saw the leading six competitors separated by just 12 centimetres.

Dendy’s second effort of 8.26m proved the crucial jump, while Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre finished just behind after setting an Oceanian indoor record of 8.25m.

China’s Changzhou Huang bettered American Jeff Henderson by as little as 2cm to take bronze with a best mark of 8.21m.

The US also dominated the 4x400m relay events, registering comfortable wins in both the men’s and women’s races.

Natasha Hastings gave America’s women the lead on the first leg, with the advantage extended by Quenera Hayes on the second.

Courtney Okolo clocked the fastest split of the day on the third leg, 50.71, which left Ashley Spencer to bring the team home in 3:26.38 ahead of Poland in 3:31.15 and Romania in 3:31.51.

In the men’s race, Christopher Giesting produced a strong third leg to stretch the lead established by Kyle Clemons and Calvin Smith before handing over to Vernon Norwood to bring the team home in 3:02.45.

Bahamas held on for second in a national indoor record of 3:04.75, with Trinidad and Tobago taking third in 3:05.51, which is also a national record.

 

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