Of Bolt, Eaton and Yego

Lightning Bolt… the Jamaican sprinter celebrates with his mother Jennifer Bolt after winning the men’s 100m gold at the World Championships in Beijing. “If I wanted to continue my legend, I had to win. That was all the pressure I needed,” said Usain Bolt after the race.-PICS: GETTY IMAGES

While the decathlon produced a rare World record, most athletics buffs nervously looked forward to the men’s sprint, billed as the ‘clash of good against evil’. And after exactly 9.79s, there was joy all around, as Jamaican Usain Bolt won the race. By Stan Rayan.

This event has been rather quiet after Briton Daley Thompson quit the stage. Thompson, a former world record holder and Olympic champion, had once famously said, “Being a decathlete is like having 10 girlfriends; you have to love them all…you cannot afford losing one.”

Thompson’s clash with German Jurgen Hingsen was legendary and brought a lot of glamour to the decathlon.

American Ashton Eaton’s world record (9045 points) in the decathlon, where the winner is hailed as the greatest all-rounder in athletics, put the spotlight back on the multi-event competition at the IAAF World Championships.

Eaton, the Olympic and World champion, had run the 400m in 45s — the fastest-ever one-lap contested in the decathlon — and it helped a great deal in the American breaking his own World record.

‘Clash of good against evil’

While the decathlon produced a rare World record at the meet, all that most of the athletics buffs were looking forward to in Beijing was the 10-second race; or let us say, less-than-10-sec-race.

For a few hours that Sunday, the athletics world was squirming nervously. Will Justin Gatlin, who was caught twice for doping, emerge as the fastest man at the Worlds to sully the sport for years to come?

However, there was joy, after exactly 9.79s, as Jamaican Usain Bolt won the race that was billed as the ‘clash of good against evil’.

Coming into the Worlds final, American Gatlin had run the five fastest 100m in the world this season and he had been unbeaten in his last 28 races, while Bolt — the planet’s fastest man ever — had been struggling with injury all year. That was reason enough for the sport’s aficionados to be worried.

The race had been dubbed as the battle for the soul of athletics. Four of the nine athletes in the final had served bans for doping, and seen against the recent revelations and allegations that the world body, IAAF, had perhaps gone soft in its fight against dope cheats, one could understand the worry all around.

But Bolt found the explosiveness when it mattered the most, pipping the 2004 Olympic champion Gatlin at the line to win by a 0.01s margin.

“This was definitely my hardest race,” said Bolt, 29, after retaining the title. “If I wanted to continue my legend, I had to win. That was all the pressure I needed.”

Former Olympic and World champion Michael Johnson put it nicely when he said that Gatlin could not handle the pressure put forth by Bolt.

A rare record at the Worlds... decathlete Ashton Eaton (above) poses in front of the electronic board that flashes his world record points. Mohamed Farah (below) of Great Britain celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 5000 metres final.-

“Justin Gatlin fell apart a little bit at the end of the race. It was a stumble that wasn’t caused by anything other than Usain Bolt,” he said.

“He got all off-balance and got ready too early for his lean. It was a Bolt-forced, unforced error and he won’t get this opportunity again.”

Bolt’s victory over Gatlin in the 200m later was a lot easier and he took his third gold in Jamaica’s 4x100m relay victory later. That was also Bolt’s 11th gold medal at the World Championships.

The Worlds began with a big surprise as Ghirmay Ghebreselassie, 19, from Eritrea won the championships’ first title, the men’s marathon, shocking the fancied Kenyans. It was Eritrea’s first gold medal at the Worlds.

But despite Kenya’s shock defeat — none from that country finished in the top 20 in the men’s marathon — it topped the medals table for the first time ever at the end of the Worlds with seven gold medals. Jamaica and the United States finished second and third respectively.

Triple double

While Bolt’s gold medals were the talking point, Britain’s Somalia-born Mo Farah made distance running history with a ‘triple double’, winning the 10,000-5000m double at a third straight Worlds.

Among the big surprises was the shock defeat of Qatar high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who only last year was threatening the 22-year-old World record (2.45m) of Cuban Javier Sotomayor with a 2.43m effort.

This time, Barshim could not go above 2.33m and failed to win a medal after a thrilling three-man jump-off saw Canada’s Derek Drouin win the gold with 2.34m.

Sum falls

Kenya’s defending champion and world leader Euince Sum was also shocked in the women’s 800m, finishing with just a bronze, with Marina Arzamasova of Belarus taking a surprise gold.

Meanwhile, Sergey Shubekov too pulled off an upset victory, taking the men’s 110m hurdles gold. It was Russia’s first gold at the Worlds and it left many worried whether it was a ‘clean’ one considering the clouds of doping surrounding the country.

Another big upset came in the women’s 5000m where Ethiopia’s 1500m world record holder and world champion Genzebe Dibaba failed to win the gold, losing to her team-mate Almaz Ayana.

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands won the 200m gold in 21.63s — the third fastest time in history.

Fraser-Pryce became the first woman to win three World titles in the 100m. The Jamaican clocked 10.76s to win the sprint gold. She later anchored her team to gold in the women’s 4x100m relay. Veronica Campbell-Brown, Natasha Morrison and 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson were the other members of the Jamaican quartet.

The Kenyans, who had suffered quite a few upsets in Beijing, got a pleasant surprise from their javelin thrower Julius Yego.

Yego, who picked up the basics of the sport watching YouTube, won the gold with 92.72m, the longest throw in 14 years.

Now, after losing some of their gains on track, are the Kenyans eying field events?