It was doubles all round as Britain’s master of distance running Mo Farah and Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won their second gold medals of the world championships on Friday.
However, Fraser-Pryce’s eagerly-anticipated showdown with three-times champion Allyson Felix was cut short when the elegant American pulled up on the bend and fell to the track after tearing her right hamstring in a dramatic 200m final.
There were also two golds for the hosts as hammer thrower Tatyana Lysenko and long jumper Aleksandr Menkov, driven on by a raucous crowd, produced world-leading distances for victory.
Even though the Luzhniki Stadium was still only three-quarters full, the noise topped that made when Russia’s best-known athlete Yelena Isinbayeva won the pole vault title on Tuesday.
Isinbayeva was still making headlines as she backtracked from her controversial comments in support of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, saying she had been misunderstood because of her poor English.
“Let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes, and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality,” she said in a statement.
Amid the ecstasy of victory, the agony was also clear to see as a distraught Felix, aiming for a record ninth world gold, was carried out of the stadium by her brother Wes at the same time a beaming Fraser-Pryce danced to Bob Marley’s One Love on her lap of honor.
“I’m extremely devastated. I was really hoping to go out there and put together a great race,” Felix told reporters. “It is a serious injury.”
The best starter in the business, Fraser-Pryce blasted out of the blocks and stormed round the bend with a look of sheer determination on her face as Felix, one lane inside, crumpled.
The Jamaican streaked to victory in 22.17 seconds to become the first woman to do the sprint double at the worlds since Katrin Krabbe in 1991.
“This year I did a lot more 200m training, a lot of sacrifice, commitment and dedication,” the 26-year-old Fraser-Pryce said.
Farah has an aura of invincibility these days and the Briton made certain his name would be included in the pantheon of distance greats by retaining his 5,000m title, six days after winning the 10,000m.
Farah became only the second man after Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele to hold the Olympic and world distance double simultaneously.
In a cagey race, Farah, who struggled with a stitch early on, began the long sprint for home with 600m to go and although his rivals desperately stuck with him, none of them had the speed to go past.
The double Olympic champion crossed the line with his arms outstretched before bringing them to his head in his “Mobot” pose.
“This double was definitely tougher than the Olympic one because last year nobody knew what I was capable of,” he said.
Usually overshadowed by the track action, it was the field events that captivated a partisan crowd, who reserved the biggest cheers of the night for Lysenko and Menkov.
Lysenko’s hammer victory got the Russian flags waving as the Olympic champion, who came back from a two-year doping suspension in 2009, set a championship record with a monster throw of 78.80m — the second furthest ever — and bowed to all four sides of the stadium in recognition of their support.