Report from the final day of action at the IAAF World Championships
Dark clouds descended above the Daegu stadium this evening as the weather gods threatened to ruin tthe final session at the 2011 IAAF World Championships. But the rain held off and Usain Bolt brought down the curtain on the event in perfect fashion by anchoring Jamaica to a world record in the 4x100m relay.
His 200m victory yesterday was the perfect tonic to his false-start in the 100m final, but his run in the relay today well and truly made up for that disappointment. Running the anchor leg – a position usually reserved for Asafa Powell, who is out injured – Bolt set the seventh world record of his career, clocking 37.04 to improve his previous record by 0.06.
Before today the biggest 4x100m winning margin at the World Championships was 0.51 seconds, but Jamaica doubled that after finishing 1.16 seconds ahead of France. USA and Great Britain failed to finish after Darvis Patton collided with Harry Aikines-Aryeetey on the final changeover.
Capping a surprisingly good championships for Kim Collins, St Kitts & Nevis ran 38.49 to take the bronze medal – an outstanding achievement for a nation of just 50,000.
Like Bolt, Britain’s Mo Farah was another who went into tonight with plenty of motivation. As great as his silver in the 10,000m was, Farah was desperate to come away from Daegu with a gold medal and he had a second chance in the 5000m.
It was another tactical race with the lead changing constantly in the first four kilometres. But Farah reverted to his tried-and-tested tactic of taking on the pace with 1000 metres to go, and began to wind up the best as only he knows best.
With a final lap of 52.6 seconds, Farah kicked for his life and won in 13:23.36. Rivals Bernard Lagat and Imane Merga were unable to get close and Farah became the first British man to win a world 5000m title.
Merga was later disqualified for running inside his lane, promoting team-mate Dejene Gebremeskel to the bronze medal position.
Just moments after Farah won gold in the 5000m, Phillips Idowu held a comfortable lead in the triple jump and it looked as though Great Britain would end the week with three gold medals – their best tally since 1993.
Idowu had opened with 17.56m, taking off 19cm behind the board, and extended his lead to 17.70m in the third round. USA’s Will Claye had challenged with 17.50m that same round, but Idowu was still leading.
But then the event came to life in the fourth round. Christian Taylor produced a staggering leap of 17.96m to bump Idowu into second place and pile the pressure on the defending champion.
Idowu responded with his best leap of the day and the second-best mark of his career, but his 17.77m was not enough to topple Taylor. Claye also produced a jump that looked to be as big as Idowu’s, but it was controversially declared a foul, despite the computer saying he was 0.8cm behind the plasticine.
Cuba’s Alexis Copello, who earlier in the competition also had a huge foul, went out to 17.47m in the fifth round, but it was not quite enough to catch third-placer Claye. The three medallists did not improve in the final few rounds and at 21 years of age, Taylor became the youngest ever triple jump winner at the World Championships.
They might have missed out on gold in some of the events they were contesting in Daegu, but Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter ended their week of multiple events on a high by taking gold in the 4x100m.
The final once again boiled down to a USA vs Jamaica battle, and the Caribbean nation was once again on form, fielding a full-strength team of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and Veronica Campbell.
They produced their best ever time, a national record of 41.70, but it was not enough to defeat the might of the USA. Led off by Bianca Knight – who passed on to Felix, Marshevet Myers and Jeter – the team clocked 41.56, the fastest time in the world for 14 years.
European champions Ukraine finished third in 42.51, just 0.07 ahead of Trinidad & Tobago. Great Britain failed to make the final, running slower than teams such as Japan and Colombia.
It brings Felix’s overall career medal tally of World Championship medals to 10, equalling Carl Lewis’s total as the second best ever. Only Merlene Ottey with 14 has more, but at 25 years old Felix has many more years in which to win more.
With a dominant run in the semi-finals, defending champion Caster Semenya went from doubtful finalist to gold medal favourite in the women’s 800m. But the South African underestimated Russia’s world indoor champion, Mariya Savinova.
2007 winner Janeth Jepkosgei took out the early pace with a blistering 55.50-second first lap – just 0.01 outside the fastest first lap in World Championships history.
Semenya then hit the front with just over half a lap to go and began her kick for home. She had opened up a lead as she entered the home straight and looked set for her second title in a row, but Savinova was gaining fast.
The European champion overtook Semenya in the final few metres and won in 1:55.87, smashing her PB by more than a second and dispelling the myth that Russian 800m women under perform at major championships.
Semenya clocked 1:56.35, her second fastest time ever, to take the silver and Jepkosgei finished third (1:57.42) with a season’s best. The top five finishers dipped under 1:58 and all finalists ran under two minutes.
With the most dominant piece of running ever witnessed in a men’s marathon at the World Championships, Abel Kirui of Kenya successfully defending his gold medal earlier in the day on the streets of Daegu.
The opening pace wasn’t too quick and a lead pack of 16 athletes were still in close contact as they went through half way in 65:07. But then a trio of Kenyans soon made a break, tracked closely by Ethiopia’s Feysa Lelisa and Morocco’s Abderrahime Bouramdane.
Kirui then put in an incredible 14:18 split for the 5km section up to 30km and suddenly opened up a big gap. It was the fastest ever 5km split in a World Championships marathon and he built up an 11-second lead over team-mate Eliud Kiptanui. Lelisa was close behind and Vincent Kipruto was in fourth.
With a second half of 62:31, Kirui continued to extend his lead and went on to win in 2:07:38, the second fastest time in World Championships history behind his own championship record of 2:06:54 set in Berlin two years ago. Kipruto eventually dropped Lelisa to take the silver, 2:10:06 to 2:10:32.
Britain’s Dave Webb ran a perfectly paced race to come on strong in the second half and finished 15th overall and third-best European, running just six seconds outside his PB with 2:15:48. His top-20 finish guarantees his selection for the London 2012 Olympics too. Team-mate Lee Merrien was just 18 seconds outside the top 20, running 2:16:59 for 22nd place.
Undefeated since setting the world record back in May, Betty Heidler went in to the hammer final as the big favourite. But no one told Russia’s Tatyana Lysenko, who recaptured some of her best form to win with 77.13m.
She broke the 77-metre barrier twice – something she has not done since returning in 2009 from her drugs ban – and her first three throws would have been good enough to win.
Heidler, meanwhile, struggled and at half way she was sitting in third place behind Zhang Wenxiu of China, who threw 75.03m, her second best ever.
On her penultimate attempt, Heidler threw her best of the day, 76.06m, but it was not enough to catch the Russian. With no further improvements in the final round, Lysenko took the title.