Just as the opening ceremonies began with a video review of images from previous World Championships, the first finals of the 2013 edition were their own review of the last World Championships in Daegu, 2011.
Beginning with the women’s Marathon, in which Edna Kiplagat became the first woman to win two consecutive titles by reprising her Daegu victory, and continuing through the men’s 10,000m in which Mo Farah once again faced Ibrahim Jeilan in a sprint to the finish, Moscow picked up right where Daegu left off.
Kiplagat first to take two in a row
Faced with conditions best described as inhospitable to marathoners, Kiplagat relied on nothing so much as patience. Temperatures in the area of 30°C and humid conditions prompted a full third of the field to step off the course without finishing. As Italian Valeria Straneo did locomotive work in the front, Kiplagat hovered at the back of the lead pack, doing the least possible work.
In the end Straneo, who had never expected to lead a race of this calibre for nearly 40km, chipped the pack down to just herself and Kiplagat. Though everything about her bearing suggested the will to take on Kiplagat one-on-one, Straneo lacked the power to drop just one more.
Kiplagat pulled away just after the 40km split and, after holding strong as Straneo briefly looked capable of closing the gap and re-opening the battle, she put the stamp on her second win in 2:25:44. Straneo, just 14 seconds back in 2:25:58, professed herself astounded with a medal of any colour, Italy’s first in the event since 1995.
At 37, Straneo became the oldest ever World Championships medallist in a running event, men’s or women’s.
Taking the bronze in 2:27:45 was patient Japanese runner Kayoko Fukushi, whose careful balance of sticking to the leaders with conserving energy allowed her to overtake a fading Meselech Melkamu in the late going. Melkamu, who found herself overextended in the humidity, then stopped to walk.
Farah the Moscow chess-master
While at first it appeared the men’s 10,000m was being set up by the Kenyan and Ethiopian teams to make Olympic champion Mo Farah’s job difficult, in the end the race wound up looking very familiar.
Kenyans like Paul Tanui and Ethiopians like Imane Merga took turns at the front in an effort to stretch the pack and take the sting out of Farah’s kick, but as the chess match approached the end-game of the last 2000m, it was increasingly clear that Farah still held all his pieces.
His training partners Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein of the USA both took brief turns in the lead, managing the pack until Farah himself made a move to the front which had to be considered final.
Farah was far from fully extended, though, and the only surprise of the final lap was that the Ethiopian on his shoulder was neither Merga nor his one-time half-shod sparring partner Dejen Gebremeskel, but Ibrahim Jeilan, the defending champion who snatched the title from between Farah’s teeth in 2011. Farah’s eyes were wide as he finally reached top speed with 200m to go, but this time there was enough left for Farah to keep Jeilan from drawing even again, let alone ahead.
The positions, then, remained reversed, with Farah taking the gold this time in 27:21.71 and Jeilan silver in 27:22.23. It’s clearly too soon to be considering a rubber match for this series, but perhaps it will happen in Beijing.
Tanui took bronze in 27:22.61, relegating Olympic silver medallist Rupp to fourth and restoring at least a measure of Kenyan pride.
Eaton and Nixon close in Decathlon first day
Beyond those two finals, there was plenty of action on the track, notably the first day of the Decathlon.
The fourth event, the High Jump, proved most traumatic for the field, with defending champion Trey Hardee not managing a height and Olympic champion and World record-holder Ashton Eaton clearing only a decidedly sub-par 1.93m. The lead after that fourth event went to reigning World junior champion Gunnar Nixon, who cleared 2.08m.
Nixon didn’t hold the lead long, with Eaton delivering a 46.02 400m in the fifth event to score 1007 points and reclaim a bare nine-point lead over Nixon, 4502 to 4493 at the end of the first day. In third was Michael Schrader with 4427.
Finally, competition for the day was capped by the first round of the men’s 100m, an event which ultimately means Usain Bolt. The Jamaican superstar scored an easy heat win outside ten seconds, but in the earlier heats it was Justin Gatlin who scored a 9.99 to record the first sub-10.00 ever in Russia, and his teammate Michael Rodgers who lowered that all-comers’ record by a hundredth in 9.98 in a later heat.
Qualifying in the men’s Pole Vault, women’s Discus, men’s Hammer Throw and women’s Long Jump was also carried out on the field, and the men’s 800m, women’s 3000m Steeplechase, and women’s 400m on the track.
Competition resumes on Sunday morning with the Decathlon 110m Hurdles just after 9:05am Moscow time.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
Moscow 2013 spectator attendance figures
Sat Aug 10
AM 9420 spectators (25,420 total)**
PM 31,895 spectators (47,895 total)**
**Moscow 2013 stadium configuration:
Sat 10 & Sun 11 Aug - 59,000 capacity (43,000 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)