Bolt Farah light up worlds
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova celebrate their women’s 4x400m relay title with a kiss - in an apparent protest at their country’s anti-gay laws.Usain Bolt and Mo Farah gave international track and field just the boost it needed at the world championships after the sport’s credibility was questioned following further doping scandals in the run-up to Moscow.
Bolt, seeking to become a sporting icon in the mould of Brazilian footballer Pele and American boxer Muhammad Ali, underlined his incredible sprinting prowess by claiming double individual gold in the 100 and 200m, respectively his second and third world titles in the events.
The six-time Olympic gold medallist was untroubled in either race, clocking 9.77 and 19.66sec to win the sprints.
He then anchored the Jamaican team to gold in the 4x100m relay, his eight gold medals meaning he equalled the record held by retired American legends Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, and still-active American women’s 200m specialist Allyson Felix.
Bolt’s teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also made history by becoming the first woman sprinter to win both the individual events (100/200m) and the 4x100m relay at a world championships.
It was the perfect tonic for track and field after pre-championship positive doping tests for, among many others, top sprinters Tyson Gay of the United States, and Jamaican duo Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Farah also lived up to his star billing by emulating Ethiopian long-distance king Kenenisa Bekele by adding double 5,000-10,000m gold to his similar exploits at last year’s London Olympics.
The Somali-born Briton dominated both races, controlling the pace with aplomb and each time producing his now-trademark kick to burn off any opponents in the home strait.
The action at the cavernous Luzhniki Stadium had initially been watched by paltry crowds, particularly the morning sessions, although attendance figures and resultant atmosphere did pick up.
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva enjoyed what could prove to be the perfect send-off from the field when she won her third world title, her first major victory since her triumph at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
However, the 31-year-old, who will now take an 18-month break to start a family before contemplating a return at the 2016 Rio Olympics, tarnished her reputation with comments backing a controversial new law in Russia that outlaws dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.
Pro-gay rights activists argue that the law could be used for a broad crackdown against homosexuals, and such was the backlash to Isinbayeva’s comments that the Russian was forced into issuing a statement saying she had been speaking in English, not her first language, and had been “misunderstood”.
Either way, it fell far short of an apology and her initial claim that in Russia “We just live with boys with women, women with boys” did her public image no end of harm, at least internationally, and particularly the West.
World athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, will have delighted at the presence for the first time of African sprinters on the podiums of the women’s sprints, Ivorian Murielle Ahoure claiming two silvers, with Nigerian Blessing Okagbare also taking a 200m bronze to go with a long jump silver.
Farah’s distance double aside, Kenya just out-trumped east African arch-rivals Ethiopia in the longer distance races, although the men’s marathon went to Uganda’s Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich.
Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba won her third world 10,000m title, while teammate Meseret Defar took her second 5,000m crown, neither going for the double after their federation elected to blood some newcomers.
There was also a third title in the men’s 3000m steeplechase for Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi, with his teammate Milcah Chemos taking the women’s title, while the peerless Asbel Kiprop won a second 1500m crown.
Hosts Russia finished atop the medals table with seven golds among their total of 17. The USA were second with the highest total of medals, 25, with six gold, 13 silver and six bronze.
Bolt and Fraser-Pryce’s efforts ensured Jamaica third spot, with Kenya leading the African nations in fourth.