Rarely in modern global athletics are the Africans eclipsed in a major endurance final but it was Europeans who dominated, led by Russian Maria Chapaeva who shattered the Championship Record with 2:03.40.
Chapaeva, 16, the pre-race favourite raced to the front and went through 200m in 28.64 and the bell in 59.69 pursued by Romania’s Larisa Arcip and the second Russian Ekaterina Martynova.
But Chapaeva was not to boss the entire race and Arcip kicked for home and sped past the Russian with 250m to go. But despite opening up a three metre lead Chapaeva gradually pegged back the gap on the Romanian and decisively sped past Arcip down the home straight and to a decisive victory in 2:03.40 – to better her own Championship record of 2:05.40, which she set in the semi-final.
A fading Arcip was caught with her very last stride on the inside by the fast finishing Moldovan Olga Cristea, who claimed silver by one hundredth with 2:04.30.
The second Russian, Martynova, took fourth in 2:05.62 as the first four all recorded personal best performances in a memorable final.
Great Britain’s Laura Finucane claimed fifth in 2:05.90 with the only African finalist Imene Badraoui of Tunisia in seventh with a personal best 2:07.36.