It seems such a simple concept. Produce the most technically accomplished piece of hurdling and win, and that is exactly what Sergey Shubenkov did en route to delivering Russia’s first ever global title in the men’s 110m hurdles.
The man from Siberia, who won world championships bronze on home soil and in front of his family in Moscow two years ago, had looked the most reliable hurdler through the rounds and remained technically solid when it counted most in the final to slice 0.08 from his own national record to strike gold in 12.98.
The fast-finishing Hansle Parchment of Jamaica added world silver to the London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal he won three years ago, crossing the line in 13.03, finishing 0.01 clear of 2012 Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt, the latter being rewarded with a bronze after enduring a fraught couple of years following a kidney disorder.
However, this was to be the charismatic Shubenkov’s day as the Russian added the world crown to the 2012 and 2014 European titles he has already won.
A wide-open final was a difficult one to call and a genuine case could be made for each athlete in the final, particularly given the wildly unpredictable nature of sprint hurdling.
The first to crack was the defending champion David Oliver.
The American, running in the outside lane nine after a ragged semi-final gave him an unfavourable draw, all but conceded his crown after clattering through the top of the opening barrier and he badly lost ground very quickly.
Getting out of the blocks fastest were the young Jamaican talent Omar McLeod and Dimitri Bascou - one of trio French athletes in the final. Yet McLeod – despite boasting a PB of 12.97 this year –was technically erratic throughout the rounds and those frailties resurfaced once more as the 21-year-old started to also quickly lose momentum.
From the fourth hurdle, it was the silky smooth Shubenkov who emerged to the fore in lane seven, with Merritt three lanes on his inside also prominent. Parchment, who was some way down after four hurdles, then started to make up significant ground on the two leaders and figure in the medal picture.
In the end though, Shubenkov was too good.
Just as it appeared that Parchment might challenge the Russian, the leader kicked away again off the last hurdle and he dipped for the line as clearly the winner.
The tall, angular, Parchment landed with greater momentum off the final hurdle than Merritt and this enabled the Jamaican to grab the silver medal and earn his country’s first podium finish in this event at an IAAF World Championships.
Merritt, however, was delighted to collect bronze the week after he revealed his sister is set to be his kidney donor.
The best of the rest was Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who was awarded fourth despite being given the same time as his fellow Frenchman Dimitri Bascou at 13.17.
McLeod wound up sixth in 13.18, although the youngster who came into the championships as the fastest man in the field will surely learn from the experience. A bitterly disappointed Oliver finished seventh in 13.33 with Garfield Darien, with 13.34, completing the field in eighth place.
Steve Landells for the IAAF