Saturday evening saw the biggest crowds so far at the IAAF World Championships here at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and for good reason: there were two Russian gold medals won, another awarded (Aleksandr Menkov’s Long Jump medal from Friday), several minor medals, and finally, or perhaps primarily, Usain Bolt.
Bolt finishes the double
Bolt has reached a point where he can only usefully be compared with himself, and tonight’s result was never in doubt. Bolt removed himself from comparison with any of the other athletes in today’s 200m final before the race entered the homestretch. After coming in to the straight in the lead, Bolt then commenced opening the kind of wide gap only he usually enjoys, even easing up at the finish line.
Coming up fast then was Jamaican team-mate Warren Weir, who equalled his 19.79 PB for second. Clearly elated, Weir was congratulated first by Bolt himself. Bronze went to USA’s Curtis Mitchell, whose 20.04 was actually slightly slower than he ran in the semi-final round; Nickel Ashmeade, fourth in 20.05, leaned for the line so aggressively he tumbled to the track.
Bolt became the first to complete the 100m/200m double twice at the World Championships, in 2009 and now 2013. From here, Bolt’s last stop will be the 4x100m Relay on Sunday.
Shkolina replaces Chicherova
It took Svetlana Shkolina six jumps – one miss and five clearances – to unseat Anna Chicherova as World champion, equalling her PB of 2.03m. Shkolina’s only miss came at the second height, 1.93m. Beyond that she cleared every height on her first attempt, often with room to spare, up through 2.03m. That was the height which spoiled Brigetta Barrett’s clean sheet, and when the US champion’s third attempt was a miss, Shkolina appeared awestruck by what she’d just done.
Looking a little confused, Shkolina accepted a flag, then wandered back to the apron and talked to the officials. The bar was raised to 2.05m, but after two attempts in which Shkolina didn’t even get off the ground, she decided to simply enjoy the moment, and passed her last attempt so she could celebrate properly.
Behind Barrett, Chicherova and Ruth Beitia both cleared 1.97m with matching records but were unable to get over 2.00m, so they tied for the bronze medal. It was Beitia’s first outdoor World medal of any kind.
Russia upsets the relay
Shkolina’s 2.03m clearance came in the middle of the 4x400m Relay, where Russia was riding vocal crowd support back in to gold medal contention after the USA quartet opened an early lead.
Russia closed the gap in the third leg and handed off for the anchor pretty much even, but in the match-up between Antonina Krivoshapka and Francena McCorory, Krivoshapka had an early edge which she never let go.
With the stadium on its feet, Russia took the win in 3:20.19 with the USA back in 3:20.41. It was the USA’s first loss in this event since 2005, when Russia won, and it was another lift for the hosts, who have been performing above expectations in nearly every event they’ve entered.
The women’s 100m Hurdles was every bit as thrilling as anticipated. The semi-final rounds early in the evening set up the duel between Brianna Rollins and defending champion Sally Pearson, with Rollins undefeated so far this year and Pearson delivering the fastest semi-final at 12.50.
In the final, it was US record-holder Rollins who fought her way back from a relatively poor start to take the lead midway through the race. At the line it was Rollins in 12.44 and Pearson equalling her semi-final with 12.50; Tiffany Porter took bronze with 12.55.
Kiprotich shakes off pursuit
Stephen Kiprotich achieved his goal in the men’s Marathon, adding the World title to his resume and proving his Olympic title was far from a fluke.
After waiting 35km in a gradually-thinning pack being managed by the Ethiopian trio of Tadese Tola, Tsegay Kebede and Lelisa Desisa, Kiprotich turned on the trio and launched a series of surges which dropped first Kebede, then Tola
At 40km, with Boston and Dubai champion Desisa still stubbornly hanging on, Kiprotich first started veering across the road trying to get Desisa off his shoulder, twice almost missing turns as the course re-entered the Olympic park near Luzhniki Stadium, then finally launched into a long drive to the finish which saw him opening a 21-second gap in the closing 2km.
Kiprotich’s winning time of 2:09:51 was the first sub-2:10 Marathon in Russia. Desisa hung on for silver in 2:10:12, and Tola took bronze in 2:10:23.
Vesely strikes early
Vitezslav Vesely set the standard for the men’s Javelin Throw in the first round, when he flung the spear out to 87.17m and waited for anyone else to approach it. In the end only Tero Pitkamaki did, edging closer to Vesely but unable to get closer than 10cm and settling for silver at 87.07m.
Russia’s Dmitri Tarabin rode a wave of crowd support (yes, another one) to bronze with a 86.23m throw in the sixth and final round. In doing so, he pushed the surprising Julius Yego (85.40m) out of medal position; had Yego held on, he would have become Kenya’s first World Championships medallist in any field event in addition to the national record he set. (Kenya’s previous best field event finish was 15th in Triple Jump qualifying.)
Defar reclaims title
It’s been six years since Meseret Defar won her last World Championship title at 5000m, but Saturday evening she made clear she hasn’t forgotten the script. After waiting patiently through a series of pedestrian splits – the first three kilometers were all outside three minutes – Defar followed her teammate Almaz Ayana as the two shattered the pack, eventually dropping all but Kenyan Mercy Cherono.
On the backstretch of the bell lap Defar set out alone for home, getting a second’s lead on Cherono in the last 200m. Defar won in 14:50.19 to Cherono’s 14:51.22, and Ayana closing on the tiring Kenyan took bronze with a 14:51.33.
Parker Morse for IAAF
Moscow 2013, Spectator attendance figures Sat Aug 17
Sat Aug 17
PM session only - 43,167 spectators (59,167)**
After the conclusion of Day 8 (7 evening sessions):
Total PM attendance: 228,276 + 112,000** = 340,276
** Moscow 2013 stadium configuration:
Sat Aug 17 - 60,000 capacity (44,000 spectators + 16,000 accredited guests - VIPS, media, athletes etc...).
Spectator attendance figures are based upon scan of tickets upon entry at stadium gate (multiple entry/exit via same ticket counts once)