Adeleke and Mageean progress at World Athletics Championships in Hungary

In the heptathlon Kate O’Connor closed off her seven events with another season best of 2:14.25 in the 800m, her final tally of 6,145 points leaving her 13th overall

You know what they say about championship finals. If indeed anything can happen, then Rhasidat Adeleke and Ciara Mageean are certainly keeping their possibilities alive.

Adeleke is still one lap away from making the 400m final, her semi-final back inside the National Athletics Stadium on Monday evening. Everything about the way she won her opening heat here on Sunday – “probably one of the easiest 50.8s I’ve ran” – indicates that is the least of her intentions.

Adeleke will have Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic for company this time, the only woman left in the event in Budapest to have run faster this year. “It’s championship racing, anything can happen,” said the 20-year-old Adeleke, the youngest left in the event here too. “I just focus on what I can do.”

Four years on from her first and last World Championship final, Mageean is back in another 1,500m showdown, the Co Down runner once again displaying her class and experience on a hot Sunday evening in Budapest. After Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir led through the first lap and in a casual 66.5 seconds, Mageean simply ran her own race and held an inside line, conserving as much in reserve as possible. Still running easy around the last bend, she nailed third in 4:02.70, Chepchirchir taking the win in 4:02.14


On those final possibilities, a medal namely, Mageean said: “It will take a PB to do it but I feel ready. It’s going to be fast, but that’s what we want. I feel in the best place I’ve ever been, and I’m excited to get out there. There’s been many championships and I’ve been unfortunate to pick up something, so it’s nice to be in this position.”

Tenth in Doha four years ago, her final showdown in Budapest is set for Tuesday night (8.30pm Irish time).

In the second semi-final Sarah Healy again faced Olympic champion and world record holder Faith Kipyegon. Although in contention up until the bell, Healy then got detached down the backstretch, the 22-year-old still finishing fast in eighth, rewarded with a new personal best of 3:59.69. Kipyegon took the win in a superfast 3:55.14.

“I never thought I’d be a little disappointed with a first sub-four, and I am super happy to run that time, and with how I competed, but the goal was to make the final,” she said. “I was close but not close enough.”

It wasn’t to be for Andrew Coscoran in his quest to become the first Irishman to make a World Championships 1,500m final since 2011. The Dublin runner certainly put himself in contention early on, sitting in fourth after the first lap, before the pace got a little too hot to handle, Yared Nuguse from the USA taking the win in 3:32.69, Coscoran finishing at the rear of the field in 3:37.39.

“I had a pretty good position early on and I tried to hold my place, The legs just weren’t there, I’m very disappointed,” he said. “There’s a couple of things that got in the way on the lead-up, they’re all excuses, really. I’ll get them right next time.”

Throughout Sunday there were ample other reminders that anything can happen in championship finals. In the latest showdown between the fastest men on earth the 100m final didn’t even feature defending champion Fred Kerley, eliminated in the semi-final. So up bounced US team-mate Noah Lyles to win gold in 9.83 seconds, the next three men all clocking 9.88: when they went into the thousandths, Letsile Tebogo from Botswana won the surprise silver, Britain’s Zharnel Hughes equally delighted with his bronze.

In the field Pawel Fajdek from Poland was chasing a record-equalling sixth straight hammer gold medal, but he could only manage fifth with 80.00m. The Canadian Ethan Katzberg upset them all with a national record of 81.25m to take gold.

The men’s 10,000m final was also set up for another Ethiopian attack on defending champion Joshua Cheptegai from Uganda, after he broke for home with a lap to go, only there was no catching him this time, winning in 27:51.42.

After two solid days in the heptathlon Kate O’Connor closed off her seven events with another season best of 2:14.25 in the 800m, her final tally of 6,145 points leaving her 13th overall, Budapest being her first global senior championships.

At age 22, O’Connor’s potential is increasingly evident: Katarina Johnson-Thompson narrowly defended her World title thanks to a brilliant lifetime best of 2:05.63 in the 800m, the British woman’s 6,740 points just 20 ahead of Anna Hall of the US, the long time leader.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics