DOHA, Qatar (AP) — This was not your typical family get-together.
The Williams crew has been busy over the past two days in Doha. Kendell Williams was competing in heptathlon. Devon Williams was in the decathlon.
Trying to keep tabs on all the action were their parents, who were watching from the stands at the world championships.
Kendell finished fifth overall on Thursday night. Devon no-heighted in the pole vault, skipped the final two events and didn’t earn a place.
“It was awesome and stressful at the same time,” Kendell said of sharing the stage with her older brother.
Awesome because the men’s and women’s multi-event competitions aren’t typically contested at the same time at worlds (one is usually at the end and the other at the start of the championships). Stressful because she would glance over and see her brother on the giant monitor in the stadium.
“I get too nervous watching him,” Kendell said. “It’s nerve-wracking because I want him to do so well.”
He doesn’t get nervous watching his sister, though.
“We’ve been doing this our whole lives and we know what we’re doing and what we’re capable of,” said Devon, who went to University of Georgia along with his sister. “She just has to go out there and compete.”
Mom charts all their performances and Dad nervously paces.
“They’re such track parents,” Kendell said.
Someone else getting a workout was their college coach Petros Kyprianou, who went from one end to the other to keep up.
RUSSIANS’ LUCKY HAIR
Russian athletes are rocking a lucky hairstyle at the world championships.
Mariya Lasitskene isn’t just the three-time world champion high jumper, she’s also the unofficial hair guru for Russia’s team of neutral athletes.
Lasitskene has styled elaborate braids for her own successful bid for gold and for two teammates.
Her husband Vladas Lasitskas said on Twitter that Lasitskene styled Anzhelika Sidorova, the surprise winner of the women’s pole vault. She branched out into men’s hair by braiding decathlete Ilya Shkurenyov before she flew back to Moscow on Wednesday. He finished fourth Thursday, narrowly missing out on bronze.
Braids and plaits have a centuries-old significance in Russian culture. In the Czarist era, unmarried peasant women traditionally wore a single braid, parting it into two for marriage. Lasitskene and her two styling clients at the world championships all wore two braids.
It’s a sign of team solidarity among the Russians, who are competing as neutrals because their track federation remains suspended for past doping violations.
Those were angry tears from decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer after suffering not one but two injuries.
The defending champion from France was leading after seven of 10 events Thursday despite an Achilles tendon to tender he could barely walk that morning.
But as Mayer said, “when you have one pain, another comes,” and his hamstring flared up during the pole vault. Mayer tried to carry on but couldn’t jump and withdrew in tears.
“I knew I was stronger than last year. I knew I had little injuries, but I knew too that I didn’t have to do my best to be first. And we saw it,” he said. “With the injuries I was first I was first after the discus. I had to do the pole vault and after I would have won it, but that’s life and I was finished.”
As his focus now shifts to the Olympics in Tokyo, Mayer has not completed a full decathlon since breaking the world record last year.
“I prefer that happens here than at the Olympics,” he said.