The 100m, despite its obvious issues with credibility, is the glamour event of Track and Field – much like the heavyweight division in boxing. And Usain Bolt is to athletics what Muhammad Ali was to boxing in his day.
Bolt relinquished his world crown in Daegu two years ago due to a false start but there was to be no jumping the gun this time as the rain came down in the Luzhniki stadium – powering ahead of Justin Gatlin (USA) and Nesta Carter (Jamaica) who finished second and third respectively in 9.85 and 9.95.
The trademark post-race lightning bolt celebratory pose gave a welcome jolt of excitement on day two of the championships – the dead heat of Moscow reflecting the overall atmosphere until the Jamaican brought a natural high to proceedings.
Mo Farah provided a perfect foil for Usain Bolt at the London Olympics and the Brit replayed his own customary celebration, the ‘mobot’, when he controlled the 10,000m on the opening day of the championships.
Farah was surprisingly edged in Daegu by Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan and it was the 24-year-old who came closest again to denying the British idol his first world title over 10,000m. Farah moved to the front after two kilometres to slow down the race but found it had the opposite effect. “I was just trying to slow the race down,” he said. “I think it just motivated the guys to go faster.”
Dejen Gebremeskel was the Ethiopian expected to take on the Olympic champion in a last-lap dash, but it was Jeilan who stalked Farah as they rounded the home turn.
With a world 5,000m title (2011) and two Olympic titles to his name, Farah prevailed with belief as much as physical prowess in 27:27.71 ahead of Jeilan in 27:22.23 and Kenya’s Paul Tanui in 27:22.61.
The Irish found out how challenging it is to compete at this level with early round exits for all but Brian Gregan yesterday morning. But there was no joy for Paul Robinson (1:48.61) and Mark English (1:47.08) in the 800m, Jennifer Carey in the 400m (52.62), Tori Pena (4.30m) in the pole vault and an enforced dropout for Maria McCambridge in the marathon won by Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat in 2:25:44.
Robinson summed up the challenge best, describing it as a “different ball game.”
Gregan looked like suffering the same fate of the other Irish athletes with an early exit when he finished 6th in his heat in 46.04, but the Clonliffe Harrier got some welcome reprieve qualifying as a fastest semi-final.
“Things are starting to come back together,” said Gregan, who has struggled with achilles and knee injuries since finishing fifth in the World Student Games in Kazan, Russia last month. “I came here not expecting too much. I had a hellish four weeks after the World Student Games on the lead-up to this. Things have progressively been getting better so to go out and qualify for a world championship semi-final still not at 100% is unbelievable, so I’m absolutely delighted.”
Tirunesh Dibaba triumphed where the Ethiopian men could not by cruising to the women’s 10,000m title in 30:43.35 – cementing herself as a distance running legend with her third gold at 10,000m, the most by any female distance runner.