There were distance finals, sprint finals, throws finals, and even a race walk, but Tuesday was the day Yelena Isinbayeva wrote, stage managed, and played the starring role at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
Isinbayeva did not have the best start, with misses at her opening height of 4.65m and 4.82m, but her first-attempt clearance at 4.89m – a height neither silver medallist Jenn Suhr nor bronze medallist Yarisley Silva could clear – sealed victory and a third World Championships gold for the Russian heroine.
The Pole Vault was going to be a highlight from the beginning, with a bigger crowd in the stadium than attended Sunday night for the men’s 100m final, mostly packed at the first bend to watch the Pole Vault. It started early, and Isinbayeva’s habitual passing to late heights, early misses, and eventual theatrics made it a thrilling ride for those looking for it.
She asked, discreetly, for more noise when on the runway, and for less when other events were on the track, and for the most part she got what she asked for.
In return, she delivered drama, victory, three attempts at a would-be World record of 5.07m, and finally exuberant celebration, including a jumping hug with the mascot and multiple cartwheels on her lap of honour.
Harting goes for three
Robert Harting went one better than Isinbayeva by stripping his shirt off in his now-traditional celebration after winning his third consecutive Discus title.
The German went into the lead in the first round, and in subsequent rounds improved his mark to the winning distance of 69.11m. With victory assured, he flung another out to 69.08m in the sixth round before beginning his exuberant celebration on the back bend.
Silver went to Piotr Malachowski with a fifth-round 68.36m; Gerd Kanter took bronze with his 65.19m.
Down to the seventh in the Heptathlon
The wide-open Heptathlon delivered on its promise, shuffling its order slightly after the Long Jump, greatly in the Javelin, and finally once more in the closing 800m.
Ukrainian Hanna Melnychenko held the lead throughout the day, but behind her Brianne Theisen Eaton, Claudia Rath, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dafne Schippers all took turns in the second and third positions.
For silver and bronze, all three had a shot going in to the 800m. Theisen Eaton had the strongest position and made the most of it, securing her silver, but a mad dash by Schippers passed Rath and Johnson-Thompson to put the 2010 World junior champion into senior bronze.
Two laps of firsts
The men’s 800m final delivered its own share of thrills. Duane Solomon, fourth in London, led the early going, but coming in to the homestretch it was his team-mate Nick Symmonds who was shoulder to shoulder with Mohammed Aman.
Aman was the stronger, winning Ethiopia’s first medal at a distance shorter than 1500m. Symmonds’ silver was the USA’s best finish in the history of the championships and their first since 1997. In bronze was Ayanleh Souleiman, winning Djibouti’s first-ever medal on the track in any event.
Merritt returns to the top
LaShawn Merritt reclaimed his own World crown in the 400m, dominating the race to win with a personal best of 43.74 while his team-mate Tony McQuay swept up for silver in 44.40, also a PB. Luguelin Santos took bronze as defending champion Kirani James faded badly in the homestretch, finishing seventh in 44.99.
Milcah Chemos followed through with the women’s 3000m Steeplechase victory she’d been foreshadowing for years, clocking a world-leading 9:11.65.
Chemos was present near the front throughout the race, and though she looked vulnerable in the closing straight, pulled clear for the win ahead of teammate Lydia Chepkurui (9:12.55) and Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, who fell on the penultimate lap.
Another title for Lashmanova
The first final of the day was actually the women’s 20km Race Walk, which was a triumph for the hosts as Russians took the first two spots, and almost swept the medals.
After a conservative start, Elena Lashmanova and Anisya Kirdyapkina moved to the front and pulled away from the rest of the pack. The pair were set to divide the first medals amongst each other, and Lashmanova won the draw, entering the stadium several seconds ahead of Kirdyapkina, though she almost lost all that margin by twice misunderstanding where the finish line was.
Team-mate Vera Sokolova tore through the pack in the last 5km and entered the stadium third, only to be disqualified with just over 400m to walk. Bronze went to China’s Liu Hong instead.
Parker Morse for IAAF
Moscow 2013 spectator attendance figures
Tue Aug 13
AM 15,674 spectators (31,674 total)**
PM 32,431 spectators (48,431 total)**
Moscow 2013 stadium configuration:
Tue Aug 13 – 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).