Russian athletics queen Yelena Isinbayeva became the latest victim of what is developing into a curious curse at the world championships as Jessica Ennis lost her heptathlon title and David Rudisha rocketed to 800m gold yesterday.
Pole vault Olympic champion and world record holder Isinbayeva featured on the cover of the event’s official program on day four and like the cover stars on each of the past three days, she suffered a shock and ignominious exit.
On day one, Australian Olympic and defending world pole vault champion Steve Hooker appeared and swiftly exited without even completing one successful jump.
Day two’s cover showcased Usain Bolt — disqualified from the men’s 100m final — and Monday was the turn of Dayron Robles, who was stripped of gold for bumping in the 110m hurdles.
Isinbayeva at least got off the ground, but her failure to clear 4.80m was a miserable showing from one of athletics’ genuine greats.
Instead, Brazil’s Fabiana Murer took gold with a distinctly lukewarm 4.85m, way short of Isinbayeva’s 5.06m world record.
These gripping Daegu Games have so far been shaped by high drama and disqualifications — notably the world’s fastest man Bolt and the burly Robles — but finally athletic performance was the focus.
For Ennis, though, it was not the performance she wanted.
Three poor javelin throws where she never got beyond 40m left the Briton trailing Tatyana Chernova with only the 800m to go. She was never going to beat Chernova by the nine seconds she needed to become the first Briton to retain a world title.
“It’s a silver medal, so I can’t beat myself up too much, but I obviously wanted that gold,” the 25-year-old Ennis said. “I haven’t shed any tears yet, but I might. After the javelin I knew I’d thrown it away.”
One athlete you would bet the farm on in 800m, though, is Kenyan Rudisha. The rangy Masai simply ran from the front and nobody could catch him, winning in a time of 1 minute, 43.91 seconds ahead of Abubaker Kaki of Sudan.
It was the 32nd straight race he has won in the last two years.
In a thrilling 400m final, Kirani James of Grenada fought from behind to beat LaShawn Merritt of the US at the line, while Robert Harting of Germany extended his domination of the men’s discus.
Yuliya Zaripova put some balm on Russia’s wounds by winning the 3,000m steeplechase ahead of Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia.