Topping Usain Bolt from his sprint throne could take a while yet with the untouchable Jamaican star of track and field still looking down on those who seek to challenge his reign. While his jet engine still roars,others toil,with the fastest man on earth heading home from the Moscow world championships with another three golds,despite never needing to be at his peerless best.
Bolt duly completed a 100m,200m and 4x100m relay treble to match his feats of the last two Olympics,become the most successful athlete in world championship history and left promising his goal was more Games glory in Rio in 2016. Jamaican sprinters lauding it over waning powerhouses the United States was evident again in the Luzhniki stadium,the twinkle-toed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce powering to her own treble.
In truth,it was far from a vintage championships,the buzz of last year’s Olympics long gone,with some notable London champions absent,a doping cloud hanging over the sport and not a world record in sight. Like Bolt and Fraser-Pryce,an ever-smiling Mo Farah shone bright. The Briton confirmed his place among the long-distance greats by brilliantly repeating his Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 double.
Farah took 10,000 gold on the opening night of the championships and made light of a stitch during the 5,000 final six days later with another supreme final lap. Russia topped the United States in the medals table,by seven golds to six,helped by strong performances in the field events and walks.
Popular drama queen Yelena Isinbayeva was roared to victory by an ecstatic crowd in the pole vault,taking an emotional third world title after a difficult season then announcing she planned to return to action in the future once she has had a baby.
Bolt came to Moscow after a low-key season but,in the absence of injured Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay,banned after failing a drugs test,there was nobody able to pressure him.
He regained his 100 metres title with a workmanlike win over Justin Gatlin,then sauntered to victory over his favourite 200. Anchoring the Jamaican 4-100m relay,he took his tally of world championship golds to eight – level with Carl Lewis,Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix but ahead of the American trio on silver countback.
Apart from his false start and disqualification from the world 100 final two years ago,the 26-year-old has won every global sprint gold since claiming his first Olympic 100 metres title in Beijing in 2008. My goal is to defend (for a second time) my titles at the next Olympics as it hasn’t been done before by anyone. And this world championships is a stepping stone towards that goal, he said.
The colourful Fraser-Pryce,half her long hair dyed pink,also led her rivals a merry dance. Her scintillating 100 metres triumph,sealed from the moment she powered out of the blocks,was followed up with another virtuoso display in a 200 final that left three-time champion Felix prone and in tears after the American tore her hamstring in the first 30 metres.
New stars emerged in the hurdles in the shape of American Brianna Rollins and Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon. Rollins,22 on Sunday,belied her inexperience to dethrone Sally Pearson while Gordon,21,beat a tiring Michael Tinsley by one hundredth of a second.
Of the Olympic champions to flop in Moscow,Kirani James was the most surprising. Defending world and Olympic champion James trailed home seventh in a 400 metres final won easily by LaShawn Merritt,giving the American some redemption after missingout at the 2012 Olympics with injury.
In the closest gold medal finish of all,Briton Christine Ohuruogu brilliantly punished an inexcusable lapse by defending champion Amantle Montsho,who failed to dip at the line as the former champion edged her out by four thousandths of a second.
While Farah left his African rivals still figuring how to plot his downfall there were no such problems for Ethiopia’s women. Line up against Tirunesh Dibaba in the 10,000 and you can write off gold. The runner known as the baby-faced destroyer powered to her third world crown,extending her winning run in a distance she has never been beaten to 11. Not to be outdone,compatriot Meseret Defar eased home in the 5,000 metres.
Decathlon world record holder and London champion Ashton Eaton admitted he had struggled to lift himself in 2013,but that did not stop the American winning a first world title after a first-day roasting from his coach kickstarted him to the fastest-ever decathlon world championship 400metres.
An Eaton family double – he married Brianne Theisen-Eaton last month was denied when the Canadian was pipped to heptathlon gold by Ganna Melnichenko,to the delight of the vociferous Ukraine fans who were a constant presence in an all-too empty Luzhniki Stadium.