Great Britain’s Martyn Rooney ran the last lap of 4×400 men’s relay to end 9 days filled with glorious Track-and-Field events. Beijing’s Birds Nest stadium was fully packed as the people in People’s Republic of China bade farewell to the athletes on August 30, 2015. As for Rooney, he finished third in a closely contested last event and received two trophies instead of one. Along with the bronze, the British team captain was also passed the IAAF flag at the closing ceremony to signify that London will host the next edition of the IAAF World Championships in 2017. The grand event is two years away but the athletic community has already begun the countdown. Beijing 2015 was supremely successful and wonderfully organized with 9th day bringing as much thrill and drama as the previous 8 days. In women’s marathon, the winner was decided in the last 100 meters of the 42185-meter race; in men’s high jump, favorites Ukraine’s Bondarenko and Qatar’s Barshim yielded the field to Canada’s Derek Drouin. In women’s javelin, Germany’s Kathrina Molitor took the gold in a dramatic last attempt. In women’s 5000m, Ethiopian favorite Genzebe Dibaba lost to two of her compatriots; Almaz Ayana and Senbere Teferi. In men’s 1500m, Kenya’s Abel Kiprop won his third World Championship gold and in the last two events of the competition, Jamaica won their third relay gold in women’s 4x400m while USA clinched the men’s 4×400 relay gold.
The first event on 9th day nine was women’s marathon. The 42.185km race finally came down to the last 100 meters inside the Birds Nest stadium, where four athletes were separated by just 7 seconds. The gold medal winner from Ethiopia; Mare Dibaba, unrelated to the better known Dibaba sisters; Tirunesh and Genzebe, finished just one second ahead of her Kenyan rival Helah Kiprop on the finish line. The diminutive Dibaba brought the first-ever women’s marathon gold medal to Ethiopia. She clocked 2:27:35 to Kiprop’s 2:27:36 in the closest finish ever in marathon history. Bronze medalist from Bahrain Eunice Kirwa finished in 2:27.39. The race was so close that the fourth-placed athlete Kenya’s Jemima Jelagat Sumgong was only 3 seconds behind Kirwa.
The men’s high jump competition failed to elicit any fireworks. Two front-runners; Ukraine’s Bogdan Bondarenko and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim were expected to go for the world mark but no one could leap above 2.36m. Earlier, when the bar went up to 2.33m, seven jumpers were still in the fray. But Czech Republic’s 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Jaroslav Baba and Russia’s 2015 European indoor champion Daniil Tsyplakov couldn’t clear 2.33 and left the field. However, Canada’s 2013 world championships bronze medalist Derek Drouin, China’s entertaining jumper Zhang Guowei and Ukraine’s defending champion Bogdan Bondarenko continued. Barshim also got over this height on his first attempt but by taking two attempts for 2.29m, Qatar’s 2014 world indoor champion lagged the leading trio on count-back. At 2.36m, there was palpable tension and none of the five jumpers could clear the height in their three attempts. At this stage, Barshim and Bahamas’ 2007 world champion Donald Thomas left the field after 15 successive failed attempts. Only Drouin, Zhang and Bondarenko were allowed to have a fourth attempt at 2.36m in a sudden death jump-off. With no result coming, the bar was dropped to 2.34m and Drouin, who jumped first; cleared the height in style to take the gold. Bondarenko and Zhang shared second place.
In the women’s 5000m, favorite Genzebe Dibaba yielded to the master-class of tactical pace running, by her compatriot Almaz Ayana, who broke away from the rest at the halfway mark. At homestretch, another Ethiopian, Senbere Teferi also crossed Dibaba to deny her the second gold in the competition. But it was great see a 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Ethiopians.
In a dramatic last-ditch finish, Germany’s Katharina Molitor broke the hearts of the Chinese, when she surpassed Lyu Huihui’s fifth attempt throw of 66.13m. Birds Nest stadium had already begun the celebration of Lyu Huihui’s gold medal. But Molitor’s final throw of 67.69m in the final round caused all-round disappointment. The Chinese had to settle for silver while South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen got the bronze.
In men’s 1500m final, Asbel Kiprop asserted his status as the greatest middle-distance runner of the modern era. The field had fantastic runners and going to the home stretch, Kiprop was third. However, the Kenyan worked up enormous pace to clinch the gold by out-sprinting his rivals in an exhilarating come-from-behind victory in 3:34.40 minutes. Kiprop’s teammate, Elijah Manangoi produced a dramatic last-second surge in the final 20 meters that swept him from fifth to a surprise silver in 3:34.63. Morocco’s Abdaalti Iguider took the bronze in3:34.67.
In women’s 4×400 relay, Allyson Felix looked like having assured the gold for USA, when she passed the baton to anchorwoman Francena McCorory. But right behind her, Jamaican Novlene Williams-Mills burst into her full speed, passed the American and won the third relay gold for Jamaica. USA finally got a relay gold in men’s 4×400, with Lashawn Merritt superbly anchoring his team in a big tussle. It was another close finish as Jamaican Javon Francis was beaten by Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Cedenio and Great Britain’s Martyn Rooney.
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