Cape Town — It has been a fascinating journey for Luxolo Adams at the world championships, and despite finishing last in the 200m final, his coach Gerrie Posthumus says he is still “proud” of the 25-year-old South African sprinter.
Adams had arguably the toughest draw for a 200m race when he lined up in lane one at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on Thursday night (Friday morning 4.50am SA time).
Not only that, but staring him down was one of the fastest ever fields assembled for a world championships decider. The American trio of Noah Lyles, Erriyon Knighton and Kenny Bednarek were the outright favourites, while Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh is the reigning US college (NCAA) champion.
Adams qualified for the final as one of the ‘fastest losers’ after finishing fourth in his semi-final in 20.09 seconds, which Lyles won in a blisteringly quick 19.62.
So, he was up against it before the gun went off in the final, and he was unable to replicate his best performance of the season – when he clocked a new personal best of 19.82 to win the Paris Diamond League event in June.
It took Adams most of the first 100m to get into his stride as he battled to get going, and by then, it was too late to contend for the title, and he ended eighth in 20.47.
Defending champion Lyles blasted out of the blocks and was already well ahead after the bend, and the 25-year-old streaked ahead of his US teammates to win the gold medal in a superb 19.31 — a new American record, and the third quickest in history behind Jamaican pair Usain Bolt (19.19) and Yohan Blake (19.26).
Bednarek (19.77) and the 18-year-old Knighton (19.80) rounded up an all-American podium.
“I think Lux ran very well. It’s not good to have lane one, because the bend is very sharp — so you struggle to get out of the bend. I could see that he was struggling to get out of the bend, because his bend time (first 100m split) was 10.51,” Posthumus told Independent Media yesterday.
“But you must remember that it’s his first worlds, and it’s the first time that he’s at the worlds for South Africa. Just to get into the final was something huge for me and him. I’m still proud of him. I told him when I spoke to him after the race that I am still proud of him, and that he did very well just to get into that final.
“He phoned me and said to me, ‘Coach, it was not what I expected’. But I said to him, ‘Don’t worry. You had an excellent worlds. I’m still proud of what you achieved. Not many South African athletes can say they achieved the same what you have done’.”
Posthumus added the fact that Adams was part of the group of SA athletes who were stuck in Italy with visa issues and nearly didn’t make it to Oregon also took its toll on the man from Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape.
“I think what took more out of him was the problem with the visa and all those problems. At some stage, I said to him that I need to pull him back home and say everything is done. So, that also had a huge influence… The jet-lag, flying there and everything was also huge,” he said.
“Akani (Simbine) and Wayde (van Niekerk) were there long before the time, as they had the visas already as they have competed in America. It’s the first time that Lux is there. So, to go through all those emotions and things, and still get into a final was huge for us.
“What I also told him is that ‘you must remember Lux that it is the first time you are back with me (in Gqeberha) after you were at Tuks – it’s only been a year’. So, the achievement that we got, and to prepare him for worlds, was huge.”
Posthumus praised Lyles for a dominant display. “He is just in another league. If you think about it, he ran 19.9 in the heats, 19.6 in the semis and 19.3 in the final — that’s unbelievable. You don’t normally see that at worlds.”