Robert Harting delivers emphatically in discus; Ganna Melnichenko wins heptathlon
Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva sent a home crowd into raptures on Tuesday when she ended a five-year title rot with a third World Championship gold in what may be her last career event.
Isinbayeva, 31, lit up the Luzhniki stadium when she soared 4.89 metres on her first attempt and the American Olympic champion Jennifer Suhr and Cubas Yarisley Silva failed to follow.
Isinbayeva sprinted to her coach Yevgeny Trofimov even before Silva had landed after her final miss and hugged him - before missing three attempts at a world record 5.07m.
The Russian said after qualifying that she will not retire immediately but would like to have a family and a baby.
She said she aims to return for the Beijing 2015 Worlds and Rio 2016 Worlds, but only if all goes well.
The Volgograd resident is the face of athletics along with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and has ruled the pole vault with Olympic golds in 2004 and 2008 and world titles in 2005 and 2007, to go with a staggering 28 world records.
But she faded in recent years, taking 2010 off, returning to her long-time coach Trofimov, finishing only sixth at the 2011 Worlds and having to settle for bronze at the 2012 Olympics behind Suhr and Silva.
Her sheer presence transformed the Worlds from a poorly attended and quiet meet to a true championship. The large crowd made a bigger roar than after Bolt’s 100m title when she merely entered the stadium.
Isinbayeva entered the event at 4.65m, just eight centimetres below her season best 4.73m, but 41cm below the world record she set in 2009.
She got over on her second attempt, cleared 4.75m on her first, 4.82 on her second and 4.89 on her first again, which sent the opposition packing.
The crowd was obviously begging for more and Isinbayeva — who craves all the attention — duly delivered by raising the bar to a world record 5.07m.
She found time to blow kisses to the camera in between jumps as the fans chanted: “Yelena! Yelena!” Long-retired men’s world record holder Sergey Bubka showed up in the VIP box in order not to miss the grand occasion.
Isinbayeva failed to get the record but had the crowd at her feet as she embarked on what may be her last lap of honour with the Russian flag and hugged the mascot — the whole stadium to herself as she likes it, after all the other events had long finished.
In other events, LaShawn Merritt regained the men's 400m title; Ethiopian teenager Mohammed Aman won 800m gold; German Olympic champion Robert Harting a third discus title; Kenya's Micah Chemos the 3,000m steeplechase and Ukraine's Ganna Melnichenko the heptathlon.
The day started with a 20km walk gold for Russia from Elena Lashmanova and Isinbayeva wrapped up the action in unforgettable fashion.
Merritt got his second 400m World title following 2009, to go with Olympic gold in 2008, with a strong run of 43.74 seconds in a US one-two ahead of Tony McQuay and Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic in bronze. Holder and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenanda had to settle for seventh.
“I have said many times already that I am hungry. It has been a while since I was able to perform at my highest level. I knew what I had to do, I just had to produce it,” Merritt said.
Aman, 19, made the most of the absence of David Rudisha, the Kenyan title holder, Olympic champion and world record holder, when he stormed away on the home stretch for the 800m victory in 1:43.31 minutes.
Harting ripped his shirt to threads again in his trademark celebration after giving himself a third straight and Germany a ninth men's discus title with 69.11 m, ahead of Polish season leader Piotr Malachowski and former World and Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia.
“I am very happy. How does one celebrate in Russia? Long and hard, I guess,” Harting said.
Harting may check with the Russian team, who were to celebrate the triumph of Isinbayeva but also that of the Olympic champion Lashmanova, who overcame confusion about the finish of the race walk for victory ahead of compatriot Anisya Kirdyapkina.
China's Liu Hong got bronze after a third Russian, Vera Sokolova, was disqualified shortly before the finish line.
“The judges didn't really explain to us what to do one lap before the finish. But I quickly understood that I should keep going,” Lashmanova said.
Melnichenko won the depleted heptathlon with 6,586 points as a final assault from Theisen Eaton in the 800m fell short. The Canadian took silver with 6,530 ahead of Dutch Dafne Schippers (6,477). All medallists scored personal bests and Theisen Eaton got her silver two days after her Olympic champion spouse Eaton won the decathlon.
Husband-wife medals are extremely rare in athletics. But Legendary Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek and his Javelin-throwing spouse Dana Zatopkova won gold medals within a few minutes at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
The championships take a breather on Wednesday with only a short morning session that features the men's 50km walk final.