Beijing World Champs, Day 9, Session 2, the Final Session, by Alex Mills


AyanaLedsDibaba-Beijing15.JPGAlmaz Ayana vs. Genzebe Dibaba, battle on, photo by

This is Alex Mills' final report on the World Champs. I am posting this from San Jose, CA, after my return from Beijing.

Drama was the flavour of the final evening at the IAAF World Championships as one of the best competitions in history ended in style.

The performance of the night came in the women's 5000m, where Almaz Ayana, produced a stunning last three laps to blow away favourite Genzebe Diababa and take the victory in a championship record time of 14:26.86, leading home an Ethiopian clean sweep of the medals, for the first time in 10 years. With the gold medallist confirmed, silver was decided by a dramatic finale, as world 1500m Dibaba, clearly suffering the effects of a packed racing schedule, was overhauled on the line by team mate Senbere Teferi forcing her to have to settle for bronze.

Having been lead by two Japanese athletes for the opening 1k, Dibaba was the first to push on the pace and when she did there soon became two races as the African athletes and Japanese pair separated themselves from the rest of the field. The Asian athletes held on for another 1k before being left behind as seven women, from Ethiopia and Kenya lead by Dibaba, Ayana and Mercy Cherono upped the pace to break away.

As the moves continued to come and the pace started to get quicker, seven soon became three and then two almost instantly, as Ayana and Dibaba, looked set for an epic battle that their season's form had suggested might be possible.

Yet it was to prove to be an anti-climax as Ayana, perhaps learning from her defeat to Dibaba at the Paris Diamond League where she was out kicked at the finish, made a move with just over three laps to go that Dibaba could not respond to. Rather than the gap get smaller it continued to grow and grow, with Ayana's time the only real thing that seemed left to be confirmed. Counting to tire Dibaba still looked set to hold on, though as she eased up not realising that the once great distance between her and third had shrunk almost entirely, and so although she sprinted as Teferi and Kenyan Viola Kibiwot came back to her, Teferi's strength was just too much for her.

Speaking after her victory Ayana said: "I am very happy with my race and with my result. I had to win the gold medal. It was a hard race, a hard competition in general. I want to thank my husband for the hard training in the last weeks. He loves me and he made it possible for me to win the gold and to achieve a championships record. Now I am the 5000m world champion. It is great for our country that we won gold, silver and bronze."

As for Dibaba, she insisted she was not unhappy despite missing out on a historic double: "I am not disappointed about this bronze medal. My country won three medals, I can only be pleased about this. It was really a hard race. I had so many races recently and, after the 1500m final, my injury on the left foot started."

Asbel Kiprop treated the crowd to a perfect display of racing tactics in the final individual track event of the championships, to win his third world 1500m title and cement himself as one the events all-time greats. Biding his time to kick home for victory, Kiprop entered the home strait in third only to out-sprint his rivals and earn yet more silverware, winning in 3:34.40.

With nine men still in contention as they came round the final bend, the medals were anyone's to win or lose as Elijah Manangoi found to his advantage and Taoufik Makhloufi took the lead. Going into the final 100m, the Olympic champion lead from Abdalaati Iguider only for Kiprop to come past him, then Manangoi after a brilliant final surge in the last 20m to win silver, and finally Iguider as the Olympic bronze medallist dived to out-dip, him on the line and claim bronze.

Understandably Kiprop was delighted with his success: "I am so proud of myself to become a member of this exclusive club of the three-time world champions but I would love to defend the title also fourth time again in London 2017. I came here not to run but to win. I never panic in the race, I knew what to do and what I was trained for. " he said.

In the women's Javelin throw, Germany's Kathrina Molitor produced late, late drama as she won the completion with the final throw of the evening, denying China's Huihui Lyu from giving the host country some last night success glory in the Bird's Nest stadium.

After the shock of the early exit of competition favourite, Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova, who could only position herself in 9th after there rounds, the competition only went onto to become more and more open as five different women held the lead during the competition. Though, luckily for Molitor, she would be the fifth athlete.

Coming onto the runway already assured of a bronze medal, Molitor unleashed an explosive final effort of 67.69m to ensure that the title remained in Germany for two more years. As for Lyu, she had to settle for the consolation of a silver medal and continental record of 66.13m with South Africa's Sunette Viljoen 65.79 enough to win consecutive world bronze medals.

Silver was also the colour of medal that Chinese high jumper Guowei Zhang won as he lost out on gold in a three way jump off to Canada's Derek Drouin. With Zhang, reigning champion Bohdan Bondarenko and Drouin all having had perfect records up to 2.36m, when they that height three times they were forced into a contest of sudden death. After again failing to clear it with one more attempt, the bar was moved down to 2.34m. Jumping first, Drouin laid down the marker with a first time clearance, leaving him anxiously waiting to see if his rivals could do the same, though they both came very close it was not to be, meaning the Canadian was the champion.

After Olympic and world bronze, he finally had his first world title.

As is tradition, the final events on the track were the 4x400m and what a finale is was. First off in the women's race, Jamaica's Novlene Williams-Mills hauled down, USA's Francena Mccorory in the final 20m to win gold in a world leading 3:19.13. With Americans taking silver in 3:19.44 as Great Britain claimed a comfortable bronze finishing in a SB 3:23.32.

Having lost out to their central American neighbours, by more than three seconds at the World Relays, it looked as though the Jamaicans, buoyed by their success in the individual event, where they had four women in the top six, would pull off an epic win in style as they lead by 20m going into the third leg. Only for world champion Allyson Felix, to produce an staggering leg of 47.7 seconds to claw back Stephenie Ann Mcpherson and hand the baton to Mccorory in the lead. It seemed as though the world number two would hold on too, especially when she began to pull away with 150m to go, but William-Mills did not give up and with every inch that the line got closer that gap between the pair got smaller until there wasn't one. Only a Jamaican lead at the crucial moment.

For a brief period, it looked as though the men's team might be able to make it a historic relay quadruple, when Javon Francis made a huge move down the back strait, but that only proved to reinvigorate the leaders. Trinidad and Tobago and the eventual winners, U.S.A. LaShawn Merritt of the U.S., pushed on to drive for home to win his nations' sixth consecutive title in the event, taking gold in 2:57.82. Behind Merritt, Machel Cedenio continued to push despite seeing his lead disperse as he ran a brilliant last leg to help T&T to a silver medal and a new national record of 2:58.20.

With only the bronze left to be decided, with Francis in the front seat, Great Britain's team captain Martyn Rooney, continued to power home in search of a medal and as the pair came to the final 50m there was still nothing between them. In true captain spirit Rooney moved out to lane four and gave it everything, as did Francis to his left. As the finish approached they were still neck and neck and as they crossed it, there was barely an inch between them. After a minute of looking up at the board anxiously, third place was awarded to the Brits, despite both teams being given 2:58.51 seconds.

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