Valarie Allman celebrates during the women's discus throw finals at the 2022 World Athletics Championships on July 20, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
The Hayward Field magic wasn’t quite enough to propel Valarie Allman to the top at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon.
Coming into the women’s discus final with the five best throws of the year so far, Allman, the defending Olympic champ, was good but not quite at her best in finishing third. The bronze medal is Allman’s first of any color at a world championships and was the lone medal for Team USA on the sixth of 10 days of track and field in Eugene.
A former competitive dancer while growing up in Longmont, Colorado, Allman translated those skills into world-class discus technique, leading her to the Olympic gold medal last summer in Tokyo. Now 27 and living in Austin, Texas, Allman continued progressing this season, having extended her own American record while suffering just one defeat prior to this week.
The woman who beat her, two-time Olympic champ Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, outthrew Allman again on Wednesday. However, China’s Feng Bin, who failed to make the finals in Tokyo, bested both the Olympic champs with a surprise personal best throw of 69.12 meters on her first throw. Perkovic was a distant second at 68.45, followed by Allman at 68.30.
“Truly, it is bittersweet,” Allman said. “Coming to these championships, I was so excited to represent my country and showcase the work that me and my coach have been putting in. But it was a good fight. We have spent so much time preparing for this competition. I feel like the season has been defining my self-confidence. I was ready to compete for gold again. But I just could not find out that big throw.”
In the only other final Wednesday, all three Americans finished among the top 12 in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, but a four-woman breakaway group led by eventual champion Norah Jeruto of Kazakhstan proved too fast.
Courtney Frerichs, the American record holder and reigning Olympic silver medalist, came in sixth with a season-best time of 9 minutes, 10.59 seconds. That was more than 17 seconds behind Jeruto’s winning time of 8:53.02, a world championships record. Veteran Emma Coburn, the 2017 world champ, was eighth at 9:16.49, while Courtney Wayment took 12th in 9:22.37 in her world championships debut.
“I went for it and it didn't pay off,” said Coburn, who also medaled at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 world championships.
Several Americans also advanced to their respective finals on Wednesday.
Olympians Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny were each fifth in their respective heats of the women’s 5,000-meter to earn the final automatic qualifying spot in Saturday’s finals. Emily Infeld, a 2016 Olympian, was one spot behind Schweizer and qualified on time.
Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad, the last two Olympic champions in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, handily won their semifinals. They’ll compete in Friday’s final along with fellow Americans Britton Wilson and Shamier Little. McLaughlin lowered her own world record in the event at last month’s U.S. championships.
Meanwhile, Michael Norman’s redemption tour continued in the men’s 400-meter as the world leader cruised to victory in his heat. Following his disappointing fifth-place finish last year in Tokyo, Norman has yet to lose another race. In the third heat, fellow American Champion Allison found a late burst to also win, edging 2016 Olympic champ Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa, the world record holder, at the line. Norman and Allison will race for the world title on Friday.
“It is going to be a competitive race,” Norman said. “It is all I can ask for.”
Meanwhile, four-time Olympian Kara Winger is moving on to Friday’s finals in the women’s javelin throw.