Reigning men’s 100 meter world champion Fred Kerley will not be able to defend his title after a shocking third place result in his semifinal heat at the World Athletics championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The American is in the third of three semifinals and unlike himself, he does not seem to be able to reach and maintain the top speed that we are used to seeing from him in recent years.
Rising young star Oblique Seville of Jamaica won the heat in 9.90 seconds, with Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo second in 9.98. Kerley’s time was 10.02 seconds.
The top two finishers in each heat automatically advance to the final and the next two fastest times; Kerley lost one of the two places by a hundredth of a second.
Immediately after the race Kerley bowed out, a look of disappointment on his face. At first he didn’t seem interested in talking to NBC Sports or anyone, but Lewis Johnson talked him back into the mix zone. Always a man of few words, Kerley said several times that he’s still healthy so “that’s all that matters” and dropped the F-bomb, which led to Johnson apologizing to the live audience.
Watching a replay of the race and asked to critique what happened, Kerley said, “I think everything is fine. I’m blessed, I’m healthy, and hey, they’re better than me. …I should have been there but I [expletive] upwards. Life goes on.”
In addition for the US team, two men advanced to the final, which will take place at 1:10 pm ET on Sunday.
Noah Lyles, who has said for weeks that his goal is to win the 100m and 200m at Worlds, had the fastest time in the semifinals at 9.87 seconds. Lyles is the two-time defending world champion in the 200m and is trying to become the first man to win the 100-200 double at a major championship since Usain Bolt at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Lyles ran a remarkably relaxed race, and one of his biggest competitors in the final was fellow American Christian Coleman, the 2019 World gold medalist in this event. Coleman had the second-fastest semifinal time at 9.88 seconds.
Marcel Jacobs, the Italian who stunned the track and field world with his 100m gold medal in Tokyo two years ago, continued his string of disappointing results, running 10.05 seconds in his semifinal and also failing to advance. in the final.