Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele wrote his name in the history books here on Monday after claiming a fourth consecutive world 10,000m title but there were shock tears for Russian pole-vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva who failed to medal.
Jamaica also kept their sprint show on the road at the Olympic Stadium, with Shelly-Ann Fraser leading compatriot Kerron Stewart to a brilliant one-two in the women’s 100m, American champion Carmelita Jeter claiming bronze to break the monopoly.
In the 10,000m, Bekele matched compatriot and one-time master Haile Gebrselassie with his fourth world title on the trot, and remains, amazingly, unbeaten over the distance.
Once again the diminutive Ethiopian relied on his last-lap kick, an incredible ability to change gears when the bell sounds and destroy his rivals in 50 quick, painful metres.
“It’s great to win for the fourth time,” said the 27-year-old Bekele. “I had already planned to stay behind until the last lap and then kick.”
Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who led for almost all the second-half of the 25-lap race, claimed silver with Kenyan Moses Masai of Kenya winning bronze.
After the Usain Bolt-led fireworks in the men’s 100m on Sunday when the Jamaican broke the world record, the women’s 100m did not fail to live up to its own billing.
Fraser ran the third fastest time ever, 10.73sec, and kept up the ante in the much-hyped Jamaica v United States sprint-off.
“The victory is no surprise for me and neither is the time,” said a confident Fraser. “I made a perfect start and then executed well.”
There was incredible drama in the women’s pole vault when Isinbayeva failed in her bid to win a third consecutive world title after failing with all three attempts as arch-rival Anna Rogowska of Poland claimed gold.
Isinbayeva, the double Olympic champion and world record holder (5.05m), was a shadow of her usual self as she failed at 4.75m and then twice at 4.80m to finish out of the medals in only her second defeat in six years - both at Rogowska’s hands.
American Chelsea Johnson shared silver with Rogowska’s compatriot Monika Pyrek on count back as both cleared 4.65m at their first attempt.
“I have no proper explanation for what happened,” said Isinbayeva. “Everything was perfect, I was confident and I cleared 4.70m in the warm-up.
“I do not regret I did not start at lower heights because even if I cleared 4.65 it would mean nothing.
“This competition was important to me but I hope that will encourage me to be great in London (Olympics in 2012). I hope I will recover from this.”
The first world gold for Spain in 20 years came from an unlikey source when veteran Marta Dominguez produced a stunning kick to claim the 3000m steeplechase title.
Dominguez fairly sailed over the last barrier, landing so sweetly she bobbed past a stunned Yuliya Zarudneva of Russia to claim gold, pealing off and waving her day-glo pink headband as she crossed the line.