Beijing World Champs, Day 7, Session One: The Decathlon has begun, surprises in the high jump and China goes 1-2 in 20k Women's race walk, by Alex Mills


Rutherford-Powell-Beijing15.JPGGreg Rutherford, 2015 WC, and Mike Powell, 1991 WC and World Record holder, LJ, photo by

Each session has had its surprises. Today was quite the same. Trey Hardee, who had been so devestating at the US champs, hurt himself in the LJ and had to leave the competition. Ashton Eaton just got stronger and stronger.

Here is Alex Mills' reprise on the first session of Day 7.

This morning's session may have been light on the action front but there was still plenty of drama in the three events that took place.

China claimed their first gold medal of this year's world championships as world record holder Hong Liu lead a Chinese one-two took victory in the final of the women's 20km race walk.

Delighting the home crowd in the day's early final, the women's 20km race walk, Liu just won the battle between her and her compatriot Xiuzhi LU on the line to take gold clocking 1:27.45 to take victory in the closest ever finish in race walk history. So marginal was the victory that Lu recorded the same time for silver, while Ukraine's Lyudmyla Olyanovska bagged a clear bronze.

The victory ended Liu's long wait for a major championship gold medal, having previously won one world silver and two bronzes. It also helped to dispel the nightmare memories of disappointment at Beijing 2008, where she could only finish in 4th position despite a home advantage.

Coming into the competition the pair were arguably the best on the paper and it showed early on as they made quick break, coming through 5k mark in 22:24 to hold a two second lead from their closest rival Czech Republic's world junior champion Anezka Drahotova.

By they had increased their lead substantially to nearly half a minute with the gap continuing to get bigger. Though Olyanovska did make a late surge she never threatened to come between the pair as they were forced to fight it out for gold.

Just as they left the looped course and headed into the Bird's Nest Stadium, Liu took a small vital lead that she would not give up, responded to all of her rivals attempts to surge back at her, to cross the line first and win by just a few feet.

The only other track action of the morning came in the opening event of the men's decathlon, the 100m in which Ashton Eaton made a great start to his quest to retain his world title and break his own world record by running 10.23 seconds a championship record time for the decathlon. He was followed home by Damian Warner of Canada in 10.31 seconds.

With his focus then turning to the field, where he continued his impressive form in the long jump, leaping out to 7.88m to score 1030 points, as Warner produced a personal best 7.65m, to remain his closest challenger. There was heartbreak however, for two-time champion Trey Hardee. Hardee suffered a bad back injury in his final jump of the round that forced him to retire after the third event, the shot put.

Not his strongest event, Eaton still threw a credible 14.52m to finish ninth in his pool and 8cm better off than Warner, to end the morning with a score of 2830, 83 points ahead of the Canadian, with Germany's Rico Freimuth a further 17 points adrift.

World no.1 Mutaz Essa Barshim, defending champion Bohdan Bondarenko and Canada's Derek Drouin - the Olympic and world bronze medallist - were among those to secure their spots in the high jump final along with local favourite Zhang Guowei in a very impressive qualification round that saw 9 men clear the automatic standard of 2.31m. Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, winner of the 2011 world champs Jesse Williams and 2.40 man Andriy Protsenko were among the big names to miss out.

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