One woman became a champion by the thinnest of margins and another by the widest in a shorter race. There were surprises, predictable coronations, redemption and last-page heroics. There wasn’t much more left to ask of a competition after the six finals – and first day of the Heptathlon – contested on Monday’s schedule at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
Ohuruogu does it again
Christine Ohuruogu appears to be incapable of winning a global 400m title without leaving the victory to the absolute last moment. It wasn’t until the closing 50 metres of the race that it even looked like Ohuruogu’s traditional closing speed was going to bring her close to Amantle Montsho, who led off the curve.
And yet there was Ohuruogu at the line, and when the results went on the board it was her name first. Montsho was given the same time, 49.41: the gap, in the end, was four thousandths of a second. Ohurougu’s time broke a long-standing national record.
Despite the squeaker of a race in the front, the loudest roar of the 400m came when Antonina Krivoshapka of the host nation, who had run in lane 8, was confirmed as the bronze medallist in 49.78.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce served notice in the women’s 100m semi-final round that she was ready to run quickly, and when the final came up she delivered.
The Jamaican was clear of the field by halfway through the race and unchallenged to the tape in 10.71. Murielle Ahoure won the race of the rest, finishing in 10.93 and giving Fraser-Pryce one of the largest margins of victory in World Championships history.
Defending champion Carmelita Jeter, who had struggled with injury this season, managed a 10.94 for bronze.
Oliver finally delivers
David Oliver won his first World title in the men’s 110m Hurdles with a 13.00 clocking that nobody else in the field was ready to match.
Oliver, whose 2010 season was nearly unbeatable but who struggled to return to that form in 2011 and 2012, finally got his victory with the biggest winning margin in the event’s history.
Oliver was followed in by Ryan Wilson in 13.13, and the hosts again scored an unexpected – but not entirely surprising – bronze when Sergey Shubenkov delivered the right race at the right time to hold off defending champion Jason Richardson and World record-holder Aries Merritt.
The importance of perfect clearance
As all this was happening on the track, a long Pole Vault competition was winding up. Raphael Holzdeppe and Renaud Lavillenie produced a demo on why early-competition clearances matter.
Germany’s Holzdeppe opened at 5.65m, then passed 5.75m and made 5.82m and 5.89m on his first attempts, only missing when the bar went to 5.96m. Lavillenie, on the other hand, cleared the same heights, but needed two, two, and three attempts to do so, respectively.
Consequently, when Lavillenie also failed to clear 5.96m, Holzdeppe got the victory due to having fewer missed attempts. Bjorn Otto got bronze at 5.82m over Brad Walker, also due to having fewer misses.
Valerie Adams provided precisely none of the competition in the women’s Shot Put, effectively closing off the gold medal with her first-round 20.41m toss and sealing the deal with a 20.88m in the third round.
Behind her, however, a spirited competition for the lesser medals saw Christina Schwanitz seize silver in the last round with a 20.41m PB from Gong Lijiao (19.95m) and Michelle Carter (19.94m).
Surprise from Poland
Few would have picked Pawel Fajdek to win the men’s Hammer Throw, but there he was with an 81.97m spin in the first round which proved too much for the more established athletes to match.
The Pole underlined his point with an 80.92m in the second round which gave him two marks better than Olympic champion Kristzian Pars (80.30m) managed in second. Lukas Melich took bronze with a 79.36m mark.
Heptathlon Day One
Nearly every event of the Heptathlon featured a reorganisation, if not a total rewriting, of the medal table.
At the end of the day’s scramble, after the 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put and 200m had been contested, it was Hanna Melnychenko who held the lead by 75 points over Dafne Schippers, 3912 to 3837.
More incredibly, Schippers held only one point more than Sharon Day in third with 3836, and Brianne Thiesen Eaton was only another 26 points back in fourth.
Day two will likely include further reshuffling of the overall order as these almost perfectly matched athletes work through three more events.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
Moscow 2013 spectator attendance figures
Mon Aug 12
AM 9350 spectators (25,350 total)**
PM 23,707 spectators (39,707 total)**
**Moscow 2013 stadium configuration:
Mon 12 Aug - 50,000 capacity (34,000 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)