Setting up what could be a historic double, multi-talented Alina Shukh captured gold in the javelin.
The 19-year-old Ukrainian, a strong favourite in the heptathlon which gets underway tomorrow, apparently finds focusing on just one event to her liking. She took command from the outset, taking the lead with a 53.42m effort in the opening round, and extended it to 54.53m in the second. She went better still in the third, sending her spear to a season's best 55.95m, equalling the second best throw of her career.
In a very tight contest, it wasn't easy for Shukh, with pressure coming from several directions. Dana Baker of the US reached a 55.04m lifetime best in the second round and Japan's Tomoka Kuwazoe 55.66m in the third, leaving the competition wide open until the final rounds.
Shukh hit 53.29m in round four, but watched Kuwazoe continue applying the pressure, as she reached 54.35m with her fourth attempt and 51.98m with her fifth. Shukh meanwhile fouled in the fifth round then stood by and watched as the throwers took their run-ups for the final time. Kuwazoe, perhaps wooed by teammate Nozomi Tanaka and Yuki Hashioka's golden moments less than an hour before, ran confidently down the runway but her release went high and fluttered back to earth well shy of the 45-metre line.
Gold secured, Shukh covered her mouth in disbelief, passed on her final throw, and cloaked herself in her flag before graciously accepting congratulations from her competitors.
"Before my last attempt, I didn't know I would win," Shukh said. "I've prepared well and this is a great result, but I got injured out there so I'm very upset – I hope I can still compete in the heptathlon tomorrow."
The extent of that injury wasn't clear, but Shukh indicated a pain in her throwing arm.
Hers was the second Ukrainian gold in the event – Vira Rebryk won in 2008 – but her first medal-winning performance ever in the discipline.
Similarly, Kuwazoe's silver was the first medal of any kind in the event for Japan and Baker's bronze the first of any colour for the USA.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF