DAEGU, Aug 30 – David Rudisha eased to gold on Tuesday in the world 800m, giving a stark reminder of Kenya’s domination of distance events as Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva failed dismally in the women’s pole vault.
Elsewhere on a fast-paced night of action, Russian Tatyana Chernova stole the world heptathlon crown from Jessica Ennis and Grenada teenager Kirani James snatched 400m gold from defending champion LaShawn Merritt.
World record holder Rudisha’s impressive gun-to-tape victory banished the heartbreak of his failure at the 2009 Berlin worlds and comes after stunning medals sweeps for Kenya in the women’s marathon and 10,000m.
The 22-year-old claimed victory in 1min 43.91sec, half a second quicker than Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, who won Sudan’s first ever world championships medal of any colour.
The physically imposing Rudisha opened up with 200m to go, putting on an extra spurt to see him safely home.
“I controlled the race from the start, that was my plan,” he said. “I did not want to make a mistake. And I also knew that I was in good shape. Nevertheless, I spared my energy until the last 150m.
“At the moment we Kenyans are very happy to see our flag rising so often.”
Last summer, Rudisha, who failed to make the 800m final in 2009, broke the record at the Berlin Olympic stadium, the same arena where he had flopped a year earlier.
Rudisha then bettered that mark of 1:41.09 a week later to 1:41.01 in Rieti, Italy and he went on to become the youngest runner in history to win the prestigious IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.
Ominously for their rivals, Kenyan distance runners said after heats in the men’s 1500m and women’s 5000m that team tactics would be employed as they look to tighten their grip.
Defending women’s 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 10,000m on Saturday, coasted into Friday’s final and looks well set for a double.
In the women’s pole vault Isinbayeva managed just one successful vault, finishing a disappointing sixth in a competition won by Brazil’s Fabiana Murer with a best of 4.85m.
The 29-year-old Russian came in at 4.65m and sailed over. Passing at 4.70m, she then bumped the bar off at 4.75, but rather than retrying at that height went up to 4.80 but failed at that height too.
“I’m disappointed but I’m now focusing on next year’s Olympic Games,” said the two-time Olympic and double world champion, who was in Daegu seeking revenge after failing to record a height in the finals of the Berlin worlds.
“The pole was really soft. You saw how high I went for again. It was just a mistake.”
After finishing only fourth in last year’s world indoor championships in Doha, Isinbayeva’s years of dominating the event seem well and truly over.
In the heptathlon, a woeful display of javelin throwing by Britain’s Ennis cost her dearly.
Chernova crucially threw 52.95m to leapfrog the Briton, chosen by London Olympics organisers as the face of next year’s Games. Ennis could only manage 39.95m, leaving her with an impossible task in the final 800m event.
“It was the javelin. The hurdles were average, but yeah, it was just the javelin. That’s what lets me down. Every time I did it I felt like my foot was slipping,” said 2009 world champion Ennis.
In the men’s 400m final, reigning Olympic champion Merritt, returning to the world stage after a doping ban for testing positive for anabolic steroid DHEA, could only look on in horror as 18-year-old James outdipped him.
“I hope to see more and more Grenada folks,” beamed James, who won the world youth title in 2009 and the world junior title last year. It was Grenada’s first ever medal at the worlds.
Elsewhere on Tuesday evening, Russia’s Yuliya Zaripova coasted to victory in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, setting a world lead time of 9min 7.03sec and Germany’s Robert Harting won the men’s discus.