So often a Cinderella event, sometimes held outside the stadium or well prior to the rest of the meeting, Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland took the Hammer centre stage with a World record of 77.96 metres on the penultimate, Day Eight of the 12th IAAF World Championhips in Athletics.
The home crowd were hoping for a repeat of Betty Heidler’s World championship victory, and when the German began with 75.10 metres, it looked a distinct possibility. But with the first throw of the second round, the Pole whirled into a four-turn spin, and hurled her hammer out beyond Tatyana Lysenko’s 77.80m, set in Tallinn just over three years ago.
Wlodarczyk then seemed to injure herself while celebrating, and had to sit out the rest of the competition, doubtless thinking of how Tomasz Majewski and Piotr Malachowski had lost in the final stages of the Shot and the Discus earlier in the week.
Heidler responded like a reigning World champion; with 75.38, 75.73, and a season’s best 76.44 metres on her fifth attempt, then a national record 77.12 metres on her final throw. It was a superb effort, but she had to settle for silver, with Martina Hrasnova of Slovakia taking bronze with 74.79 metres. But the gold and US$60,000, and the US$100,000 bonus for the World record - sponsored by IAAF Partner Toyota - went to Wlodarczyk.*
Hooker puts aside injury to take gold
Injuries seemed to be the order of the (late) night. Olympic champion Steve Hooker of Australia only entered the Pole Vault at 5.85 metres, to avoid exacerbating a groin strain. Having narrowly failed, he went up to 5.90m and cleared first time. Having had one-two-three at an early stage, the French had to settle for silver and bronze, with Roman Mesnil clearing a season’s best of 5.85 metres, and his young colleague Renaud Lavillenie (6.01m this season) taking bronze with 5.80 metres.
Third gold for Bolt, as JAM take relay
Usain Bolt duly got his third gold, but a poor changeover between himself and last leg man Asafa Powell - also suffering from a groin injury - checked any assault on another World record. Powell held it together for 37.31sec, a new championship record, over two-tenths outside their Beijing winning time. Trindad & Tobago set a national record of 37.62sec for silver, with the British winning bronze, with 38.02sec.
Jamaica gets yet another title
With the US women’s sprint relay team failing to finish their heat – due to an injury to Muna Lee – the Jamaicans won the final much as they liked, and their winning time, 42.06sec wasn’t even their fastest of the year. Bahamas won silver in 42.29sec, and Germany third in 42.87sec. So the only blemish the Jamaican sprint squad will see on the week’s tally is the gold that Allyson Felix of the USA won, and easily too, in the 200 metres.
Kirui follows Kibet's example
Two years ago, despite dominating the world marathon circuit for at least a decade and a half, no Kenyan man had ever won a World title. Luke Kibet did the trick in Osaka, and now Abel Kirui has won the title, in the first event of the day. For good measure, his colleague Emmanuel Mutai took silver.
As expected the race soon devolved into an East African duel, with the Kenyan trio, including four-time Boston winner Robert Cheruiyot acting in concert. They were accompanied by the Ethiopians Tsegaye Kebede and Deribe Merga, third and fourth in Beijing last year, and Dieudonne Disi of Rwanda, a late addition to the start list.
His opponents can hardly claim that Kirui’s three runs in the Berlin Marathon helped, since this was a different, lap course. But city marathon founder Horst Milde can claim some of the credit for the estimated 700,000 people giving vocal support. “I’ve been training them for thirty years,” said Milde.
The pace was relentless, and like his young compatriot Sammy Wanjiru in Beijing last year, Kirui simply wore everyone down with his elevated pace. Merga and Disi suffered so much they dropped out, and Mutai and Kebede were left as the last men running in Kirui’s wake for the minor medals. Kirui winning time of 2:06:54 was a championship best by over a minute and a half. Mutai clocked 2:07:48, with Kebede on 2:08:45.
Kenya won the World Marathon Cup team competition, with Ethiopia in second and Japan, third.
Kenyans up-stage Ethiopian rivals again
There was another gold (and silver) for Kenyans, when defending champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia got mugged in the final strides of the 5000 metres by Vivian Cheruiyot and Silvia Kibet, much as Defar and colleague Meselech Melkamu had been by Linet Masai in the 10,000 metres last weekend.
The two Kenyans, and colleague Iness Chenonge took up the pace with seven laps to run, and by the bell only Defar was in contention behind Cheruiyot and Kibet. The Ethiopian took over as she has done may times in the past, but like in the 10,000m it was nothing like the decisive last lap sprint that the absent, injured Tirunesh Dibaba brings to her races.
Cheruiyot saw her chance with 50 metres to run, and was quickly past, to victory in 14:57.97. Fewer than ten metres from the line, a frantic sprint from Kibet took her too past Defar, to take silver with 14:58.33. A shell-shocked Defar had to settle for bronze with 14:58.41.
Phillips caps a rememarkable comeback year
When Dwight Phillips, wearing the special uniform featuring the initials of 1936 sprinting and long jumping Olympic hero Jesse Owens, jumped 8.40 metres from 25cms behind the board on his first attempt, the twice former champion and Olympic gold medallist 2004 set the standard in the men’s Long Jump. Phillips improved to 8.54m in the second round before Beijing silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa responded with 8.47m.
But Phillips’ form may have freaked out Olympic champion Irving Saladino, who registered three fouls, one of them well over 8.50m. No matter, the Panamanian was out!
The only change after that was Mitchell Watt of Australia improving to 8.37 metres to take bronze behind third time champion Phillips, with Mokoena adding world silver to Olympic silver.
Phillips received his gold medal from Jesse Owens' granddaughter Marlene Dortch. German 1936 Olympic Long Jump silver medallist Luz Long's granddaughter Julia-Vanessa Long presented the silver medal to runner-up Mokoena.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
*World record subject to usual ratification procedures
SPECTATORS NUMBERS - Olympic stadium - Berlin 2009
NOTE: stadium is 56,000 ticket capacity PLUS members of the IAAF family and some volunteers.
Sat 22 Aug, Day 8
NOTE - Morning - Men's Marathon in city centre; no competition in stadium
Fri 21 Aug, Day 7
NOTE - Morning - 50km Race Walk in city centre; no competition in stadium
Thu 20 Aug, Day 6:
Overall TOTAL - 90,451
Wed 19 Aug, Day 5:
Overall TOTAL - 52,470
Morning - 20,312
Evening - 32,158
TUE 18 Aug, Day 4:
Overall TOTAL - 49,848
Morning - 19,951
Evening - 29,897
MON 17 Aug, Day 3:
NOTE - No morning session was held
TOTAL - 30,496 (evening only)
SUN 16 Aug, Day 2:
Overall TOTAL - 74,413
Morning - 23,300
Evening - 51,113
SAT 15 Aug, Day 1:
Overall TOTAL: 67,846