07 AUG 2012 Report The odds

Three huge favourites win followed by a big surprise - London 2012 Day Five Report

Sally Pearson of Australia celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012 (Getty Images)Sally Pearson of Australia celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
on favourites in three of tonight's four finals lived up to expectations as Ivan Ukhov, Sally Pearson and Robert Harting all won gold. But the biggest surprise was saved for the final event of the night, the 1500m, where relative unknown Taoufik Makhloufi ran away with the title in outstanding fashion.

The high jumpers were the first up to compete in the Olympic Stadium tonight, and as was the case with yesterday's Pole Vault final, the cold breezy conditions saw six of the 14 finalists bow out as the bar got to 2.29m – including defending champion Andrey Silnov and World champion Jesse Williams.

The first-time clearances at that height proved vital, as only two men went on to clear 2.33m. It meant that the other three athletes who jumped 2.29m on their first leap – European champion Robbie Grabarz, Canada's Derek Drouin and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim – would share the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Ukhov found himself in a surprise battle with USA's Erik Kynard, who had cleared 2.33m on his first try. Ukhov then cleared 2.36m and 2.38m at the first time of asking, while Kynard was unable to do likewise at the higher heights, so he ultimately had to make do with silver.

After one attempt at 2.40m, Ukhov began his lap of honour, content to take gold with 2.38m – only one Olympic High Jump title (1996) has been won with a higher mark.

Pearson breaks another curse

After breaking the 'cover curse' in Daegu last year by becoming the first coverstar of the daily programmes not to fall victim to some sort of misfortune, Australia's Sally Pearson ended another curse tonight in the 100m Hurdles.

The pre-race favourites for the past five Olympic titles in this event had all failed to win gold. The last two pre-race favourites – Lolo Jones in 2008 and Perdita Felicien in 2004 – had also won World Indoor gold in the same year they crashed out of the Olympic final.

But Pearson, the 2012 World Indoor champion, knows better than to be swept up in hocus-pocus. Instead she let her feet do the talking and after coming within 0.02 of the Olympic record in the semi-finals, she went on to break the record in the final with 12.35.

It was closer than expected, though, as defending champion Dawn Harper was not going to surrender her title without a fight. After a PB of 12.46 in the semis, she went even faster in the final and crossed the line almost level with Pearson and was rewarded with another PB, 12.37.

Kellie Wells – the woman who ended Pearson's winning streak earlier this year – took the bronze medal with a PB of 12.48. Jones was fourth (12.58), given the same time as fifth-placer Nevin Yanit who set a Turkish record of 12.58.

Harting maintains his reign – but only just

For much of tonight's Discus final it looked as though Robert Harting's two-year winning streak would come to an end. The German had won the past two World titles and was looking to win his first Olympic gold, but World bronze medallist Ehsan Hadadi unleashed a 68.18m throw in round one to take a lead that lasted for four whole rounds.

It was only on Harting's penultimate attempt – after being bumped into third place by Gerd Kanter's 68.03m throw – that he was able to take the lead, sending the disc flying out to 68.27m.

Hadadi was the next in the circle and for a second it looked as though he had thrown the winning mark of the competition, but it was ruled a foul. With no changes in the final round, Harting was crowned the champion – prompting his trademark celebration of tearing his vest before going on a lap of honour that included clearing a full set of hurdles in the home straight.

Former two-time Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna, making a record fifth appearance in an Olympic Discus final at the age of 40, finished fourth, having been in a medal position for the first four rounds.

Makhloufi runs away with 1500m gold

Despite his 3:30.80 PB in Monaco earlier this year, few would have predicted before the Games began that Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi would become Olympic 1500m champion. But his performances in the heats and semi-finals made it clear that the 24-year-old would be a strong contender.

After opening laps of 58.30 and 59.30 – led by Kenya's Nixon Chepseba and Bahrain's Bilal Mansour Ali – the pace began to pick up on the third lap. Defending champion Asbel Kiprop appeared to be biding his time, hanging at the back of the field, but it soon became clear that he simply did not have anything more to give and he faded badly on the final lap to finish last.

Makhloufi kicked hard over the final 200m and, just as he had done in the previous two rounds, opened up a sudden and significant lead on the rest of the field, striding away to gold in 3:34.08.

In the frantic battle for the minor medals, USA's Leonel Manzano came through strong at the end to take a surprise silver with a season's best of 3:34.79. Abdelaati Iguider narrowly snatched the bronze in 3:35.13, just 0.04 ahead of World bronze medallist Matt Centrowitz – the second US athlete in the top four.

After hopes of winning one or more medals in this race, Kenyan athletes had a disappointing race as Silas Kiplagat was the top finisher in seventh. European champion Henrik Ingebrigtsen set a Norwegian record of 3:35.43 in fifth.

Rudisha and Felix guarantee their place in the finals

Looking just as good as they did in yesterday's heats, World leaders David Rudisha and Allyson Felix took another step closer towards winning Olympic gold by winning their semi-finals this evening.

In the 800m semis, Rudisha led from the front to safely make it through with 1:44.35. Britain's Andrew Osagie got the second automatic qualifying spot (1:44.74) as Nick Symmonds progressed as a fastest loser in a loaded semi-final, edging out Yuriy Borzakovskiy and Marcin Lewandowski.

Abubaker Kaki beat Nijel Amos in the first semi-final in a close finish, 1:44.51 to 1:44.54, while Ethiopia's Mohamed Aman impressed in the third semi with 1:44.34.

The women's 200m semi-finals got slightly quicker with each race. Defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown took the first in 22.32, followed by Felix winning the second (22.31) and Sanya Richards-Ross winning the third (22.30).

Also making it through to the final were Carmelita Jeter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Murielle Ahoure, Semoy Hackett and Myriam Soumare. All finalists have already competed in either the 100m or 400m.

Bolt in, Liu out on dramatic morning of heats

Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt was back on track today for the 200m heats and looked like he was out for a morning jog when winning his heat in 20.39. Team-mate and World 100m champion Yohan Blake looked equally as easy, taking his heat in 20.38. All the other big favourites made it through, although 2009 World silver medallist Alonso Edward was disqualified for false-starting. The fastest time of the day came from Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, who set a national record of 20.28.

But while the 200m heats were relatively uneventful, the same cannot be said for the first round of the men's 110m Hurdles. In an unfortunate rerun of the 2008 Games, Liu Xiang – wearing exactly the same race number as he did in Bejing four years ago – crashed into the first barrier and ruptured his Achilles as his hopes of regaining his Olympic title ended within a matter of seconds.

Three other athletes in that race – including 2008 finalist Artur Noga – failed to finish, while the third heat was similarly brutal as Andrew Pozzi and Shamar Sands were two of the three athletes to take a tumble.

But the likes of World champion Jason Richardson, defending champion Dayron Robles and World leader Aries Merritt – the latter running the fastest ever heat or quarter-final at the Olympics with 13.07 – all advanced to the semi-finals.

Liu was not the only big name to bow out. 2009 World Champion Phillips Idowu had been dogged with injury this year but had hoped to be fit enough to at least make the Triple Jump final. But the Briton was found short of form and could manage just 16.53m to finish 14th overall in qualifying.

The round was led by World champion Christian Taylor with 17.21m, needing just one jump to book his place in the final.

On a bad morning for the host nation, another one of their hopes, Goldie Sayers, also saw their Olympic dreams end as she tried to compete through the pain barrier. She had beaten all the world's top throwers at the recent London Diamond League but ruptured her elbow in the process. The injury had not cleared up in time for the Games and, clearly in pain, she failed to register a valid mark.

In contrast, defending champion Barbora Spotakova was in stunning form and posted the best mark of the day with 66.19m. Christine Obergfoll was just five centimetres behind, while World leader Sunette Viljoen led the second group of qualifiers (65.92m). But newly-crowned European champion Vira Rebryk was some way off her best and will not be in the final.

Having had four days to rest since successfully defending her Olympic 10,000m title, Tirunesh Dibaba made her win in this morning's 5000m heats look extremely easy. She was followed home by team-mate Meseret Defar and Kenya's Viola Kibiwot as all three dipped under 15 minutes.

The second heat was only marginally slower as Gelete Burka edged out Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego in a close finish.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

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