With the athletics World Championships in Beijing over, we pick our five highlights of the championships.
1. Super Saturday do it again
We all remember that night inside the Olympic stadium at London 2012. Not one, not two but three gold medals in the space of just one hour. But surely Jess Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah couldn’t do it again?
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Well they could and in her first global competition since the birth of her son Reggie, Ennis-Hill took heptathlon gold once again. Good performances in the Long Jump, where she was just 8cm off of her personal best and the javelin, saw her go into the final event with an 86 point lead over her nearest rival. This equated to around a six second lead, but Ennis-Hill refused to rest on her laurels and powered home in the 800 metres to a points total of 6669, claiming the gold with a 115 point lead.
In the Long Jump, Rutherford became only the fourth British athlete to hold European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic titles at the same. With heaps of Chinese interest, due to three Chinese athletes competing in the event, the crowd was at fever pitch and this seemed to bring the best out of Rutherford.
His fourth round offering of 8.41 metres was the second longest jump of his career and more than enough to see off the rest of the field, with his nearest rival, Fabrice Lapierre of Australia registering 8.24 metres to claim silver.
It was Farah who had possibly the toughest task, as he looked to claim gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres.
In the 10,000 metres final the conditions weren’t the best, as heat descended on the stadium. Happy to sit in with the pack, Farah allowed the pace to stay at around the 64 second mark, hitting the front briefly at around the 1200 metre to go mark.
The next time he hit the front, the race was as good as over, as at 500 metres to go, Farah would never let the lead go. There was a brief moment of panic as he tripped overtaking a lapped runner, but he steadied himself and in typical fashion, the arms went up and the smile spread across his face, half his job was done.
His 5000 metre dreams were nearly dashed in the semi-finals though, when he was tripped on the last bend, only just managing to stay on his feet, keeping his balance and feeling a heavy sense of relief as he qualified for Sunday’s final.
The final saw Farah have to do things differently, as he wasn’t allowed to lead the race home as Caleb Ndiku took the front. But a lap of 52.6 seconds saw the Brit blaze around the track and surge past the Kenyan to claim his second gold of the tournament. The gold saw Farah complete the ‘triple-double’ winning both events at London 2012, Moscow 2013 and now Beijing 2015, leading to claims that he has become the greatest British athlete of all time.
2. Bolt flies flag for clean athletes
The pressure on Usain Bolt had never been so high going into these World Championships, with a pantomime like theme, as drugs cheat Justin Gatlin formed his closest competition, the ultimate sports good versus evil battle.
And like all good fairytales, it looked like good would prevail as despite being behind at the half-way stage, Bolt had the kick and Gatlin couldn’t hold on in the 100 metre final. The Jamaican facing the toughest of all his world finals, crossed the line in 9.79, just 0.01 in front of Gatlin to claim the gold.
This was the slowest World Championship winning 100m time of his career but possibly the most important as he proved he could chase anyone down and that when it comes to the big competitions, it doesn’t matter who is on form, Bolt is the man for the job.
In the 200 metres, Bolts favourite event, the competition never really got going and with 20 metres to go in the final , the Jamaican took his foot off the gas and celebrated, knowing he had added yet another sprint title to his ever expanding collection.
More notably though, this was his fastest time in the 200 metres since the 2012 Olympic final in London, clocking a 2015 world leading time of 19.55 seconds. Gatlin was comfortably beaten, forced to settle for silver again after failing to find form, finishing in 19.74 seconds.
Bolt has also excited British athletics fans after hinting that he may make the London 2017 World Championships his last global competition before retiring. He was also the only athlete of the World Championship to collide with a cameraman on a Segway, after celebrating victory his 200 metre victory.
3. Kenya win first ever field gold
When you think of Kenya in world athletics, you think about long distance domination. But Julius Yego is built in a different mould and won Kenya’s first ever field gold, with victory in the Javelin.
The Kenyan, who was forced to compete in the Javelin at school due to a lack of ability in running events, taught himself to throw by watching Youtube videos of Czech great Jan Zelezny. Unorthodox perhaps, but to great results, as the Kenyan sprinted and threw himself to the ground releasing the Javelin to see his effort measured at 92.72 metres.
This was the longest throw in 14 years and was inside six metres of Zelezny’s world record, comfortably enough to secure the gold medal with Ihab El-Sayed’s seasons best of 88.99 metres his nearest competition.
4. Dafne Schippers takes 200 metres gold
Holland’s Dafne Schippers ran the third quickest 200 metres of all time as she won the women’s 200 metres, just two months after the Dutch athlete decided to turn her back on the heptathlon to focus on the sprint races.
In the fastest women’s 200 metres race of all-time, all three medallists ran times under the 22 second mark, with Elaine Thompson clocking 21.66 seconds in silver and Veronica Campbell-Brown running 21.97 seconds to claim bronze.
In the same race, Great Britain’s Dina Asha-Smith became the fastest teenager over 200 metres in history as she smashed Kathy Cook’s 31-year old national record, to finish fifth in a time of 22.07 seconds.
Schippers managed to complete a full set of world medals with her performances in Beijing. Having previously won a bronze in the heptathlon in Moscow 2013, she added a silver medal after finishing behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres in Beijing before sealing gold in the 200 metres.
5. Christian Taylor makes second biggest triple jump of all time
Jonathan Edwards watched on nervously as Christian Taylor threatened his 20 year old world record as he took victory in the Triple Jump.
The whole season has been about the competition between the American Taylor and the Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo, including their clash in Doha where both men jumped over 18 metres, the first time this had ever happened.
This competition at first didn’t have the length but it was all about the two jumpers, locked level after three attempts at 17.60 metres with Pichardo leading thanks to his superior second jump.
Cue fireworks, Taylor extended his longest effort to 17.68 metres and hit the front, with Pichardo unable to match him, leaving everything down to the last jump.
As the Cuban was leading after three jumps, it was he who had the last jump, so Taylor stepped up for the penultimate jump of the competition. The result was epic, as the American recorded the second longest jump of all time at 18.21 metres, just eight centimetres short of the World Record.
Pichardo registered his longest effort of the competition in the final jump but at 17.73 metres, he had to settle for silver with Jonathan Edwards left sweating about the future of his record, as both jumpers are perfectly poised for an epic showdown next year in Rio.
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