Yelena Isinbayeva, the greatest woman pole vaulter of all time, thrilled a partisan home crowd roaring her every jump when she landed the third and probably last world title of her illustrious career on Tuesday.
The Russian, twice Olympic champion and world outdoor record holder, was the only one to clear 4.89m.
It was a season’s best leap for the 31-year-old, the first woman to clear the five-metre barrier, who said before the championships that she would retire.
American Olympic champion Jenn Surh took silver and Cuban Yarisley Silva bronze. Both cleared 4.82m.
After a nervous start when she failed with her first attempt at 4.65, Isinbayeva grew in stature. With a chorus of “Yelena Yelena” reverberating around the Luzhniki stadium, the biggest crowd of a poorly attended championships so far, each clearance was greeted by a cacophony of approval.
When gold was assured Isinbayeva ran to the crowd and embraced her coach.
Milking the moment and urging the crowd to raise the decibel level further, she asked for the bar to be raised to 5.07, one centimetre above the world record she set in 2009.
Three unsuccessful attempts followed but it could not spoil the former gymnast’s celebrations as she set off for a lap of the track which featured a cartwheel and back-flip.
Isinbayeva was virtually unbeatable between 2003 and 2008, when she kept raising the bar higher and higher, often by a centimetre at a time. But plagued by injury and poor form and after failing to register a height in the 2009 world championships, she decided to take a break, returning after an 11-month absence.
She was again outside the medals at the 2011 worlds but took bronze at last year’s London Olympics.
Germany’s Robert Harting won his third-successive world discus title with a 69.11m throw. Perennial runner-up Piotr Malachowski of Poland took silver. Harting is also the Olympic and European champion.
Great finish for Aman
Ethiopian Mohammed Aman won the men’s 800m, the first ever medal for the country in the event. Aman clocked the season’s best of 1min 43.31sec, with American Nick Symmonds taking silver in 1:43.55. Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman claimed bronze (1:43.76), the first medal for the east African country since Ahmed Salah’s marathon silver in the 1991 worlds.
Ukrainian heptathlete Ganna Melnichenko won her first major title dashing Canadian Brianne Theisen Eaton’s hopes to match her decathlete husband Ashton Eaton’s gold.