As the curtain came down on the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow tonight, a version of the Queen song ‘It’s a kind of Magic’ beamed out across the Olimpiyskiy Arena. What a fitting tribute.
Here on another thrilling afternoon of action, the Queen of middle-distance running had stolen the show. Maria Mutola of Mozambique, won the 800 metres in style to land her seventh World Indoor tite. She is 33 and no other competitor has won so many gold medals on this indoor stage.
As she won again, the King of the long distances Kenenisa Bekele won his first indoor title as he triumphed in the 3000m to add this gold to his Olympic and World 10,000m triumphs and his countless cross country honours.
The drama could never have been predicted from some of the events, such as defeat for Russian hero Yuriy Borzakovskiy in the 800m and for American Bryan Clay in the Heptathlon. He led all the way, but the lost the gold in the final steps of the last event, the 1000 metres, when German Andre Niklaus strode away to glory.
Mutola makes it the fastest this year
It was a day of 13 finals and Mutola’s victory came with her season’s best run of 1:58.90 as she beat Jamaican Kenia Sinclair, who was second in a national record of 1:59.54, with Morrocco’s Hasna Benhassi third in 2:00.34.
“My seventh title is something special,” said Mutola, who first triumphed in Toronto in 1993. “Bit it was tough.”
Bekele’s ‘fun run’
Ethiopian Bekele made it look easy as he strolled away to glory in the 3000m, dominating the final laps to win in 7:39.32 and providing the priceless outcome on his first gold medal on the boards. “After winning titles indoors and in cross country, indoors is like a fun run for me.”
The first gold medal of the day went the way of Germany, as Niklaus edged closer towards leader Clay in the Pole Vault, the penultimate event which he won, and then strode away to win the 1000m in 2:47.80. His time was enough for a five points victory and he said: “Did I think I would win after five events? No. But what a fantastic day this has been for me.”
American Brad Walker was the outstanding star of the Pole Vault, producing a season’s best when it mattered most to win with 5.80m.
As Sweden’s Alhaji Jeng failed on 5.70m, Walker cleared 5.80m at the third attempt and revealed how he overcame a mishap prior to the event. “I had a small accident during the warm-up yesterday, so I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I would be able to compete,” he said. “But I would like to thank the US technical and medical staff for their phenomenal job.”
One of the great aspects of these Championships has been the extent of so many world leading performances and that is what happened in the women’s Long Jump as Russia celebrated more glory.
Tatyana Kotova, of Russia, won with 7.00m from Tianna Madison, second with a personal best of 6.80m, with Portugal’s Naide Gomes third with a national record if 6.76m.
“I prepared specially for these Championships,” said Kotova. “I was born in the winter and it is winter today. It is good.”
Belarussian Natallia Khoroneko won the Shot Put with a personal best of 19.84m and was delighted. She said: “I have doing the shot since I was 14 and I have worked for this win.”
The 400m proved as frenetic as usual, with Alleyne Francique, of Grenada, holding off the challenge of Botswana’s California Molefe to win 45.54, a season’s best, to regain the gold medal he won in Budapest.
“It was my race and I must be satisfied that I was able to defend my title,” said Francique, who is now heading to the Commonwealth Games, which opens on Wednesday in Melbourne, looking for an amazing double gold.
In the women’s 400m, a Championship record for Russia’s Olesya Krasnomovets, who triumphed in 50.04, while her teammate Yelena Slesarenko won the High Jump with a season’s best of 2.02m.
“I am very glad,” said Slesarenko. “I have had a good result today...I can say even a grandmaster result.”
No doubt who the grandmaster of the Triple Jump is...step forward Walter Davis, of the USA, who added this gold to his glory from last summer’s 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland.
A personal best jump of 17.73m was his golden effort and he said: “Before these Championships everybody was speaking about other names when describing the favourites. I showed it to them.”
Further Russian came in the women’s 1500m as Yuliya Chizhenko won in 4:04.70 and said: “This win is the biggest of my career.”
Bungei denies Borza
But for once the home nation could not celebrate in the men’s 800m, when one of their biggst stars Borzakovskiy did not have enough left to pass Bungei of Kenya who won in 1:47.15. The Russian Olympic champion was third in 1:47.15.
“I have no big Championships in the summer, so I want to run some fast times,” said Bungei.
America won the men’s 4 x 400m relay in 3:03.24, but fittingly, Russia won the women’s, with a thrilling display to triumph in 3:24.91.
Richard Lewis for the IAAF