Kelsey-Lee Barber has has seen her dream and life’s ambition come true, joining the great Cathy Freeman as the only other Australian to successfully defend a world athletics title.
The javelin specialist further embellished her reputation as a supreme big-event competitor at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday evening with a monster third-round throw of 66.91 metres – the second-biggest of her career.
No-one else came close, meaning the Australian was able to pass on her last two throws and become the first woman to win two successive world javelin golds.
“I have definitely dreamt of this moment,” she said. “It’s one thing to win it once, but to go back-to-back is totally different.
“And I’ll be honest in saying I wanted to do it – I’ve wanted it for a really long time. It’s part of my dreams within this sport.
‘I nailed it down’
“About a month ago I nailed it down. I was chatting to (coach and husband) Mike (Barber) and said, ‘I can do this, I can win the world championship’.
“That self-belief just really drove my training and it didn’t falter form there.”
With two days of competition remaining, Australia now has three medals – two gold and a bronze – with the possibility of a few more to come.
The 30-year-old Barber has won medals at each of her past three major championships – world gold in 2019 and 2022 and bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.
Three years ago in Doha, she clinched gold with her final throw in dramatic style.
This time it happened much earlier in the competition.
“What I was able to do on the runway tonight was to put everything aside and just throw the javelin,” she said. “I know I’ve said it multiple times, but that’s when my best comes.”
Barber’s winning throw was more than two-and-a half metres better than American Kara Winger’s silver-medal effort of 64.05m.
Haruka Kitaguchi from Japan was third with 63.27m and Australian Mackenzie Little was fifth with a first-up PB of 63.22m.
Cathy Freeman won back-to-back 400m gold medals in 1997 and 1999.
Australia’s only other two-time world champs are Jana Pittman (400m hurdles in 2003 and 2007) and Sally Pearson (100m hurdles in 2011 and 2017).
“I set my expectations very high,” Barber said.
“In the last couple of years I’ve said I want to be remembered in this sport. I want to be one of the best and I finally feel like I’m standing up there.”
After being added to the 800m semi-finals having been pushed to the track in her opening-round heat, national record holder Catriona Bisset was unable to take advantage of her good fortune.
She trailed home last in her semi in two minutes 05.20 seconds.
The Victorian required 11 stitches to mend a wound on her thigh as she was spiked by another runner after her fall.
Reigning Commonwealth champion Kurtis Marschall bowed out of the men’s pole vault qualifying round in disappointing fashion.
Marschall’s only successful jump was at 5.50m before he failed three times at 5.65m, way below his PB of 5.87m.
Earlier on Friday, 49-year-old mother-of-four Kelly Ruddick – the oldest female athlete ever to compete at a world championships – came home 34th of the 35 finishers in the women’s 35km walk.