If there were any doubts about world supremacy, two athletes put those doubts to rest on Day 7 at the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow today.
Great Britain's Mo Farah settled the issue with regard to men's distance running and Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce cleared the air in the women's sprints.
Farah, after winning the men's 10,000-meter run earlier in the week, confirmed his greatness today in the 5,000-meter run. He used his vicious kick and internal fortitude to hold off the best East Africa could offer, winning the tactical race in 13 minutes, 26.98 seconds.
Ethiopia's Hagos Gebrhiwet took silver, less than a second behind in 13:27.26 in a near-photo finish with Kenyan Isaiah Koech, who claimed bronze with the same clocking. Kenya, as a matter of fact, finished 3-4-5 in a somewhat symbolic example of Farah's usurpation of Kenya's former dominance.
Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp finished in sixth and eighth, respectively.
Fraser-Pryce had to power to her victory in the women's 200-meter dash final without the impetus of American rival Allyson Felix, who fell to the track—a la Tyson Gay in the 2008 Olympic Trials—in the middle of the turn, with an apparent right hamstring injury.
Still, it wasn't even close at the finish as the Jamaican won easily in 22.17. The battle for silver was very close, however, as Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure just squeaked past Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare 22.313 to 22.319.
It was Ahoure's second silver (also one in the 100-meter dash) and Okagbare's second medal as well (silver in the long jump). Americans Jeneba Tarmoh and Charonda Williams finished fifth and sixth.
In the men's long jump final, Aleksandr Menkov gave the partisan crowd another reason to erupt, as he leaped a world-leading 28 feet, 1 inch for gold. Ignisious Gaisah, of the Netherlands set a national record in winning silver at 27'-2.5".
Mexico's Luis Rivera had a bronze medal leap at 27'-1.5".
Tatyana Lysenko kept the crowd on their feet as she uncorked a monstrous 258'-6" hammer throw in a heated duel with Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk. It was a championship record and good enough for yet another Russian gold medal. The Pole had one final try to spoil Lysenko's effort but could not pull it off.
She settled for 257'-5" and a silver medal. China's Wenxiu Zhang managed a 247'-11" for bronze.
American favorite, Ryan Whiting had to settle for silver in the men's shot put final, as Germany's David Storl was pushed to a season's best 71'-3" for the gold. Whiting's best toss was 70'-9", and Canadian Dylan Armstrong launched an even 70-footer for bronze.
In the evening's finale, the 4x400 relay, the US men put together an unconventional team but still won in a world-leading time of 2:58.71. Jamaica and Russia battled for silver, with the islanders nosing out the Russians for second, 2:59.88 to 2:59.90.
Here are the split times for the winning US 4x400 team:
David Verburg - 44.37, Tony McQuay - 44.68, Arman Hall - 44.92, LaShawn Merritt - 44.74.
We're using an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring format to keep track of men's and women's standings and a combined team score. As the meet winds down, the picture is becoming quite interesting. Let's take a look at the standings after Day 7.
MEN WOMEN TEAM
USA - 116 USA - 78 USA - 194
Rus. - 52 Rus. - 75 Rus. - 127
Ger. - 51 Ken. - 50 Ken. - 98
Ken. - 48 Chi. - 34 Ger. - 75
Jam. - 32 Jam. - 32 Jam. 64
GBr. - 31 Eth. - 30 Eth. - 58
Pol. - 30 GBr. - 26 GBr. - 57
Eth. - 28 Ukr. - 26 Chi. - 41
Fra. - 25 Ger. - 24 Ukr. - 41
Ukr. - 15 Jpn. - 15 Pol. - 39
Russia has steadily been gaining on the entire world field and now threatens the US women for that top spot. With the injury (and probable withdrawal) of Allyson Felix today, there are implications in the women's 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Also, there are other good scoring opportunities available for both women's teams coming up. The US men were hardly hurt by the failure to medal today in the 5,000-meter run and long jump. But the US women took a hit, failing to medal in the 200.
It's getting down to nail-biting time if the women's race means anything to American and Russian readers.
Notice the balance of the Jamaicans, Kenyans, Brits and Ethiopians. Not significant in the big picture but it does say something about the national programs.
On Day 8 the championships get down to the nitty-gritty with only an afternoon session filled with seven event finals and a women's 100-meter hurdles semifinal (leading to the hurdles final in the evening).
The men's marathon is predictably a showcase for East African superiority. Occasionally, a non-African will have a perfect day and, through super-human effort, will sneak through and steal a victory.
But this year, I'm going with the odds and predicting a podium finish for at least one of the following: Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa (love that name), Yemane Tsegay or Kenyan Bernard Koech.
The women's high jump could be a medal haul for the Russians—if not for American Brigetta Barrett, who is capable of grabbing gold.
But so is Russia's Anna Chicherova. Her compatriots Irina Gordeeva and Svetlana Shkolina are also very medal-worthy. And don't forget that home crowd in Luzhniki Stadium.
Pray that we get another classic Barrett-Chicherova duel. It doesn't get any better.
Dmitri Tarabin, of Russia, will bring the crowd alive in the men's javelin final but I expect Finland's Tero Pitkamaki or Czech thrower, Ivan Zaytsev to battle it out for gold. Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen could use a good throw to cap off a so-so season as well.
The women's 5,000 final. Ethiopia's Meseret Defar. Enough said.
The struggle will be for silver and bronze (oh, how I wish Defar's countrywoman, Tirunesh Dibaba, who won the 10k, had chosen to double).
In our points race, the women's 4x400 relay is critical. After a Jamaican disqualification (lane violation), it looks like a three-way battle between USA, Great Britain and...Russia (again). It should prove to be one of the most exciting races on the track. There will be a lot of noise in Luzhniki. London-level noise.
The drama and tension will only increase with the women's 100m hurdles final. Pending tomorrow's semifinal earlier in the evening, we should see the powerful American team led by Brianna Rollins and Dawn Harper, with Queen Harrison and Nia Ali against the reigning world champion Sally Pearson, who has been consistently dropping her times after a late-season start.
And then, Day 8's grand finale, the men's 200 final. It could easily be a Jamaican sweep, with Usain Bolt, Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade leading the way.
However, the order of finish will be incidental. Everyone's eyes will be on the clock.
Why not bookmark our track and field homepage and return tomorrow for a recap of results, updated scores and analysis of Day 8?
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