The Greeks put on a great show in Athens, but if there was one thing missing in Athens, we were reminded of it on Day Two of the World Athletics Final - as we were reminded of it in the Brussels TDK Golden League two weeks ago - the one volatile, flamboyant missing ingredient in the Olympic soup was Saïf Saaeed Shaheen.
Qatar's World 3000m Steeplechase champion, formerly known as Stephen Cherono, was prevented under IOC rules from competing in Athens due to the circumstances of his change of affiliation.
But he has made amends, with a World record of 7:53.63 in Brussels and another performance here, which would have been even more startling, had he and the rest of the steeplechase field not been baulked by Wesley Kiprotich slamming into the first barrier and holding up proceedings.
Overcompensation by his helpers, Simon Vroemen and Luis Miguel Martin meant that Shaheen got to the 2000 metres just a tenth of a second shy of the World record for that distance, and suffered accordingly when he struck out by himself in the last kilometre.
Nevertheless, Shaheen still ran 7:56.94, the fifth fastest in history, and beat Athens gold medallist, Ezekiel Kemboi by 50 metres.
Asafa and Campbell at the double
There were plenty of might-have-beens elsewhere, with Asafa Powell following up his ninth sub-10sec of the year on Saturday, with a personal best 20.06, for 200 metres victory today.
The young Jamaican added another touch of class when he led the rest of the sprinters in a lap of honour for the retiring Frank Fredericks of Namibia, who had finished second. That was more than appropriate, given his four Olympic silver medals.
Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, the Olympic 200m champion, also accomplished the same dramatic double feat with a win in today's women's 100m, the last track race of the women's programme to match with yesterday's equalling emphatic 200m win.
Guevara has last laugh
It has taken Ana Guevara all season to get going, after her injury in the spring. But the Mexican enjoyed her eleventh hour victory in the 400 metres, winning in 50.13, from two Americans, Monique Hennagan, second in 50.20, and Dee Dee Trotter, third in 50.60.
But it was a race much too far for the Olympic champion, Tonique Williams-Darling, whose first defeat of the season was a comprehensive one, only sixth, in 51.44.
Guevara, World champion and Olympic silver medallist has tried several different tactics against the Bahamian this season, and this time she ran much more conservatively, letting Williams go, and even being passed by Athens bronze medallist, Hennagan on the final turn. But Guevara accelerated to a clear victory, and a promise to be back on optimum form next season in Helsinki.
Jackson victory in 400 Hurdles
The Sunday session of the World Athletics Final in the Stade Louis II had begun in a rush, when Bershawn Jackson, who apparently collects national vests as a hobby decided to collect a few scalps instead.
Jackson was only fourth in the US Olympic Trials, but he made amends for missed opportunities even more briskly than Guevara, winning the 400 metres hurdles in 47.86, a personal best and the third fastest time of the year. His American colleague, James Carter just got the nod over Kemel Thompson for second place, though both recorded 48.06, which was a season’s best for the Jamaican.
Benhassi wins, as Holmes sits out 800m
Hasna Benhassi won a torrid duel up the final straight with long-time 800 metres leader, Jearl Miles-Clark, who was rewarded this time with second place. Benhassi of Morocco, the Olympic silver medallist recorded 2:01.42, with Miles-Clark of the USA on 2.01.73, and the second Moroccan, Amina Ait-Hammou third, with 2.01.78. Olympic champion, Kelly Holmes decided to rest on her laurels, after a crushing victory over Tatyana Tomashova in Saturday’s 1500 metres.
National record in the long Jump
Ignisous Gaisah set a national record for the second year in succession in Stade Louis II. The Ghanaian pulled out an effort of 8.32 metres to beat Olympic champion, Dwight Phillips of the USA.
But the high jump went with form, despite the acrobatic efforts of Mark Boswell. The Canadian kept the crowd entertained with a back somersault over the bar, to clear 2.30 metres, but he couldn’t keep the irrepressible Stefan Holm down. The Swede attempted 2.40 metres, but had already won with 2.33 metres, ahead of Yaroslav Rybakov and Boswell.
Another World record will not be long coming
Yelena Isinbayeva just failed to add another World record to her impressive season’s tally. But we were happy to wait, to see her fail 4.93 metres. We know we won’t have to wait that long before we see her clear it.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
Event by Event reporting team in Monaco: Laura Arcoleo, Bob Ramsak, Chris Turner and Sean Wallace-Jones.
Daily Competition Wrap: Pat Butcher
Statistics: Ottavio Castellini and Celine Bianchi
Results: Emanuele Perotti-Nigra, Raffaella Risso, Miroslav Tudan