Wed, Jan 01, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Bolt shines in Moscow amid drugs scandals

AFP, PARIS

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, left, wins the 100m final at the IAAF World Championships at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on Aug. 11 last year.

Photo: AFP

What would a year of track and field be without mention of the indomitable Usain Bolt at its fore, dragging the doping-mired sport out of the doldrums?

The 2013 season was no different, the towering Jamaican again dominating the sprints and underlining his formidable track prowess by claiming double individual gold in the 100m and 200m at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, respectively his second and third titles in the events.

It means that apart from his false-start blip in the Daegu world’s 100m, Bolt has won every global sprint title on offer since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an astonishing feat he aims to carry through until the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The six-time Olympic gold medallist’s world medal haul now stands at eight golds, bringing him level with US women’s 200m specialist Allyson Felix, and retired US track stars Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.

Bolt’s Moscow performances were the perfect tonic for track and field after pre-championship positive doping tests for, among many others, top sprinters Tyson Gay of the US, and Jamaican duo Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Turkey also banned 36 athletes for doping offenses, including women’s Olympic 1500m champion Asli Cakir Alptekin.

International track and field was given a further boost in Moscow by the confirmation of Mo Farah as one of the best distance runners in the world.

Farah emulated Ethiopian long-distance king Kenenisa Bekele by adding double world 5,000m to 10,000m gold to similar exploits at the 2012 London Olympics.

Like Bolt, 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.

However, he will likely leave his fans disappointed next year as he has opted to compete in the lucrative London Marathon rather than the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Russian athletes topped the medals table for the first time since 2001 with seven golds, one more than the US, boosted by a “super Saturday” where the team enjoyed stunning victories in the women’s high jump and 4x400m relay.

One stand-out performance at Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki Stadium featured Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva.

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, brought the house down when she won her third world title, her first global championship victory since her triumph at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The victory made up in part for her comments seemingly 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 misunderstood.

World athletics governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations awarded their men and women’s athletes of the year to Bolt and his Jamaican teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who also claimed double sprint golds.

Notably, there was for the first time an African presence on the podium in both the women’s 100m and 200m, US-based Ivorian Murielle Ahoure claiming two silvers, with Nigerian Blessing Okagbare also taking a 200m bronze.

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