Following the semis for the men and women’s 4x1’s, the finals got underway with the men’s 5000 meters. It became yet another championship race – which means they spent some 4200 meters warming up for a showdown between kickers. What made the race exciting is that this time it was not a set up for a showdown between Kenya and Ethiopia, because the U.S. (Bernard Lagat) and Great Britain (Mo Farah) actually had athletes capable of kicking with the Africans. And kick they did with Farah outkicking the world to get Britain its first ever gold medal in the event. Lagat finished in second as for the first time since the inaugural meet Africans finished out of the first two spots in the World Championships.
13:23.36 – Mo Farah (GBR)
13:23.64 – Bernard Lagat (USA)
13:23.92 – Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH)
That final lap of the 5000 got the track hot as the women’s 800 saw the leaders go through 400 in 55.5. Down the backstretch Caster Semenya ran dow the leaders before the bend and led into the stretch. Heading down the final straight it looked like Semenya would repeat when Mariya Savinova began her kick, overhauling Semenya with 30 meters to go to cross the line in 1:55.87 to take the world lead and the gold medal. Behind these two Janeth Jepkoskgei Busienei and Alyusia Johnson Montano waged a battle for the remaining medal, Jepkosgei Busienei keeping the American off the stand by .06 as both ran season’s bests. This was easily the best 800 of the year with five finishers under 1:58.00!
1:55.87 – Mariya Savinova (RUS)
1:56.35 – Caster Semenya (RSA)
1:57.42 – Janeth Busienei (KEN)
Meanwhile, on the field in the men’s triple jump, defending champion Phillips Idowu (GBR) took control in the 1st round with a 17.56m/57’ 7’.5” jump that he stretched out to 17.70/58’ 1” in round 3. Behind him the young American pair of Will Claye (17.50m/57’ 5”) and Christian Taylor (17.40m/57’ 1”) had worked their way into the silver and gold medal positions – until round #4. In the 4th round Taylor brought the heat with an amazing 17.96/58’ 11.25” leap that saw him hang in the air on his final phase as if he wasn’t going to land. Taylor flew past Idowu, and most of history’s other triple jumpers as he became the #5 triple jumper of all time with his near 18 meter flight! Idowu came right back to improve to 17.77m/58’ 3.75 but found himself just short and try as he might he would get no closer as once again the pairing of Taylor and Claye found themselves on the podium following their exploits at the NCAA championships and U.S. Nationals.
17.96m – Christian Taylor (USA)
17.70m – Phillips Idowu (GBR)
17.50m – Will Claye (USA)
Next up was the women’s 4x1. After the U.S. “B” team ran a world leading 41.94 in the semis, the “A” team took the track in lane 4 with Trinidad to their inside and arch rival Jamaica out in lane 6. At the gun it was Fraser putting Jamaica out in front as she burst from the blocks. Allyson Felix ran a storming backstretch to gain the ground back for the U.S. Sending Marshavet Myers off around the curve as she put space between the U.S. and Jamaica, giving anchor Carmelita Jeter a lead that Jamaican anchor Veronica Campbell Brown would try in vain to overcome. Jeter crossed the line in a world leading 41.56 with Jamaica claiming a national record 41.70 in second. No one else was ever a factor as the American women broke the jinx of the last two majors by getting the baton cleanly around the track as they took gold for the first time since 2007.
41.56 – United States
41.70 – Jamaica
42.51 – Ukraine
The men’s 4x1 then lined up with the U.S. and Jamaica lining up in lanes 4 & 6 – just as their female counterparts did. At the gun both teams were blazing and through two legs looked to be fairly even. As they headed around the turn, the question was whether or not Darvis Patton could get the stick to Walter Dix before Yohan Blake could get it to Usain Bolt – until Patton unexpectedly went down to the track in a heap. Blake completed the pass to Bolt as he went sailing down the stretch all by himself to cross the line in a WR 37.04! The replay showed that Patton actually ran into the anchor runner for Britain who stood in his lane just to his inside. And for the third major in a row the U.S. men failed to finish the 4x1 – and not so coincidently Patton has had the baton in his hand each time. Speculation is moot, but clearly at that point the U.S. and Jamaica were even as Bolt and Dix went side by side into the passing zone. Unfortunately for the U.S. only Bolt emerged with the stick. I can’t take anything from the Jamaican squad who earned every hundredth of their new WR – the only WR of the meet – but there is no excuse for not battling them to the wire. For Bolt, on the heels of his sterling 200, it was fitting redemption for his earlier faux paux in the 100.
37.04 – Jamaica
38.20 – France
38.49 – St Kitts & Nevis
And so closes this edition of the World Championships. After a day of rest I will come back and start reviewing just what we saw in Daegu.