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 was in the third of three semifinals and did not look like himself, seemingly unable to reach and maintain the top speed we’ve gotten 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 moved on to the final plus the next two fastest times; Kerley missed out on one of those two spots by one one-hundreth of a second.
Immediately after the race Kerley crouched down, a look of disappointment on his face. He initially seemed uninterested in talking to NBC Sports or anyone, but Lewis Johnson talked him back to the mix zone. Always a man of few words, Kerley said several times that he is still healthy so “that’s all that matters” and dropped the F-bomb, which led to Johnson apologizing.
Watching a replay of the race and asked to critique what happened, Kerley said, “I think everything was good. I’m blessed, I’m healthy, and hey, they got the better of me. …I should have been there but I [expletive] up. Life move on.”
On the plus side for the U.S. team, two men did move on to the final, which will take place at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Noah Lyles, who has been saying for weeks that his goal is to win both 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 an incredibly relaxed race, and one of his biggest competitors in the final will be 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 not moving on to the final.