Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (centre) and compatriot Nickel Ashmeade (left) celebrate after winning the men’s 4x100 metres relay final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday.
MOSCOW: Toppling Usain Bolt from his sprint throne could take a while yet with the untouchable Jamaican star of track and field still looking down on those who seek to challenge his reign.
While his jet engine still roars, others toil, with the fastest man on earth heading home from the Moscow World Championships with three more golds, despite never needing to be at his peerless best.
Bolt duly completed a 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay treble to match his feats of the last two Olympics, become the most successful athlete in world championship history - and left promising his goal was more Games glory in Rio in 2016.
Jamaican sprinters lauding it over waning powerhouses the United States was evident again in the Luzhniki Stadium, the twinkle-toed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce powering to her own treble.
In truth, it was far from a vintage championships, the buzz of last year’s Olympics long gone, with some notable London champions absent, a doping cloud hanging over the sport and not a world record in sight.
Like Bolt and Fraser-Pryce, an ever-smiling Mo Farah shone bright. The Briton confirmed his place among the long-distance greats by brilliantly repeating his Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 double. Farah took 10,000 gold on day one of the championships and made light of a stitch during the 5,000 final six days later with another sublime final lap.
Russia topped the United States in the medals table, by seven golds to six, helped by strong performances in the field events and walks.
Popular drama queen Yelena Isinbayeva was roared to victory by an ecstatic crowd in the pole vault, taking an emotional third world title after a difficult season then announcing she planned to return to action in the future once she has had a baby. However, she suffered a backlash for her subsequent anti-gay comments, convincing nobody when she said later she had been misunderstood.
While Isinbayeva and the controversial Russian law divided opinion, the world is united in appreciation of Bolt.
He came to Moscow after a low-key season but, in the absence of injured Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay, banned after failing a drugs test, there was nobody able to pressure him. He regained his 100 metres title with a workmanlike win over Justin Gatlin, then sauntered to victory over his favourite 200. Anchoring the Jamaican 4-100m relay, he took his tally of world championship golds to eight - level with Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix but ahead of the American trio on silver countback.
Apart from his false start and ignominious disqualification from the world 100 final two years ago, the 26-year-old has won every global sprint gold since claiming his first Olympic 100 metres title in Beijing in 2008.
“My goal is to defend (for a second time) my titles at the next Olympics as it hasn’t been done before by anyone. And this world championships is a stepping stone towards that goal,” he said.
The colourful Fraser-Pryce, half her long hair dyed pink, also led her rivals a merry dance. Her scintillating 100 metres triumph, sealed from the moment she powered out of the blocks, was followed up with another virtuoso display in a 200 final that left three-time champion Felix prone and in tears after the American tore her hamstring in the first 30 metres.
New stars emerged in the hurdles in the shape of American Brianna Rollins and Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon. Rollins, 22 on Sunday, belied her inexperience to dethrone Sally Pearson while in the men’s one-lap event, Gordon, 21, pipped a tiring Michael Tinsley by one hundredth of a second to confirm the promise that made him world junior champion.
Of the Olympic champions to flop in Moscow, Kirani James was the most surprising.
Defending world and Olympic champion James trailed home seventh in a 400 metres final won easily by LaShawn Merritt.
“I was hungry. Probably the hungriest person in the field,” said the American after regaining his 2009 title and making up for last year’s Olympic disappointment when he suffered injury.
Compatriot David Oliver did not even make it to London after a wretched time but the ever-cheerful American took his first global title in the 110m hurdles, with world record holder Merritt sixth after an injury-hit year.
In the closest gold medal finish of all, Briton Christine Ohuruogu brilliantly punished an inexcusable lapse by defending champion Amantle Montsho, who failed to dip at the line as the former champion edged her out by four thousandths of a second.