A gritty Russian racewalker won the solitary gold up for grabs on Wednesday as a world championships characterised so far by drama and disqualifications reached its midway point.
Olga Kaniskina grimaced her way through downtown Daegu to win the women's 20 kilometres walk title for a record third time -- in the process breaking a curious curse that had developed in this southeast Korean city.
For each of the previous four days of competition, the athlete who has featured on the cover of the official programme had suffered a shock, ignominious exit.
Day one, defending pole vault champion Steve Hooker exited without completing a successful jump; day two Usain Bolt was disqualified from the 100m final; day three Cuba's Dayron Robles was stripped of gold for bumping in the 110m hurdles and on Tuesday, pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva failed to win a medal after a miserable performance.
Wednesday's cover star Kaniskina ended the hoodoo, though, crossing the line in a time of 1:29.42. "Thankfully no one told me about this before the race, they only told me after," Kaniskina laughed at a news conference. "I didn't know about it, but it was a good decision to put me on the cover."
Yelena Isinbayeva's latest underwhelming performance has seen her lose the aura she once enjoyed as out-and-out queen of the event The Russian, whose world record stands at 5.06m, could only manage sixth place on Tuesday when she failed to clear 4.75m.
"These moments happen in life," acknowledged the 29-year-old Isinbayeva. "This was a difficult day for me," Isinbayeva said of her Daegu outing. "The poles I used were very soft. I was in good shape. Everything was ready for a victory but I do not know what went wrong."
Defending women's 800m champion Caster Semenya returns to world competition on a busy Day Six on Thursday.
The South African sprinted to the women's world 800m crown two years ago and quickly found herself entangled in a maelstrom of seedy allegations that saw her cast into limbo because of doubts over her true gender.
But she returns to action in Daegu cleared to run by the sport's world governing body, the IAAF, and largely accepted by her peers.
The 20-year-old Semenya had clocked a jaw-dropping personal best of 1:55.45 in storming to victory at the 2009 Berlin worlds.