Ashton Eaton in the decathlon at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Beijing, China

What we learned on day eight – IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015

With seven finals and a decathlon, it was a busy Saturday, and that makes it all the more important to review and consider what we've learned today.

Ashton is amazing

Ashton Eaton is the reigning world and Olympic champion and world record holder, so perhaps his amazingness is self-evident.

But Eaton seems determined to find every last way to be amazing. It was clear after the first day that Eaton's own record was in his reach, but world records are hard to come by in the best of circumstances and Eaton had many potential disasters to avoid. 

After nine events the record was still only just in reach, requiring Eaton to beat 4:18.25 in the 1500m. He came through with a 4:17.52 to improve his own world record by six points. The new mark: 9045.

After two days of scratching for every point in every event, the record came down to less than a second, and Eaton had enough to make it happen.

Studying your fundamentals pays off

Yes, the top line on the relay is yet another gold for Jamaica, yet another runaway down the home straight for Usain Bolt. But underneath that is the tale of two silver medals. One of them was a silver that slipped out of reach: the USA quartet, second to the line, was disqualified for an exchange zone violation. And the other was the silver won by the Chinese team from lane nine, with three flawless baton exchanges.

Look for China to keep picking up relay medals in the future.

The same lesson was apparent in the women's relay, where the overwhelming speed of the Jamaicans was out of reach for 200m champion Dafne Schippers' as the Netherlands quartet (disqualified for an exchange zone violation), and 400m champion Allyson Felix's USA squad (second).

The surprising third place was a national record 42.03 for the women of Trinidad and Tobago, who have been working on their exchanges with 2001 relay medallist Ato Boldon.

Sometimes it's worth stopping

In the middle of the 50km race walk final, Matej Toth, who had been leading almost from the gun, walked off the course and into a bathroom. He wasn't there long, but when he came out he not only made up the time he'd lost but extended his lead.

Toth won in 3:40:32 with 1:45 over the experienced Jared Tallent, so who's to question his decision to invest some time in a short break, especially when it helps brings your country’s first ever world championships gold medal?

It's all about the home straight

Two consecutive finals on the track came down to homestretch drives.

First, it was the men's 5000m final, in which Mo Farah wound up with his third consecutive world title.

Kenya's Caleb Ndiku came closer than anyone has in recent years at championships to finding a winning strategy over Farah, challenging the Briton until less than 100 metres to go.

Farah had another gear, though, and put daylight between himself and Ndiku in the last one per cent of the race.

A short while before, in the women's 800m final, Marina Arzamasova of Belarus stole a march on Kenay’s defending champion Eunice Sum down the backstretch, then found the speed necessary to hold off the fast-closing Sum on the homestretch.

Perhaps with more speed than either of them, Canada's Melissa Bishop snuck home ahead of Sum for the silver medal. From Arzamasova at 1:58.03 to Sum at 1:58.18 was just 0.15 seconds. 

Poland knows throws

With Piotr Malachowski's 67.40m gold medal effort in the men's discus, Poland has three gold medals here in Beijing, and all three came in the throws. The other two were from Pawel Fajdek and Anita Wlodarczyk in the hammer throws.

Not only did Malachowski take the gold, but his training partner Robert Urbanek stepped up to take bronze, another throw with multiple medals for Poland after the men’[s hammer.

Every attempt counts

Seven years ago, Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic took the 2008 Olympic Games silver in the high jump here in the Bird’s Nest stadium, losing gold on countback to Tia Hellebaut when the Belgian beat Vlasic over one height and then pressed her advantage to the end.

Tonight, Vlasic took a world championships silver medal on the same jumps apron, losing the gold on countback to Russia’s Maria Kuchina, whose record was perfect through to 2.01m while Vlasic had one miss at 1.92m.

Vlasic took the silver over Kuchina’s compatriot Anna Chicherova, who also jumped 2.01m but at the second time of asking and also had an earlier miss.

Without that miss at 1.92m, Vlasic would have been involved in a  jump off with Kuchina and the destination of the title might have been different.

Parker Morse for the IAAF