There was no buzz and there was no drama, only the furious footsteps of a woman in firm control of her business. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican with a fancy for weird hairdos, was a class apart in the women’s 100M final of the 15th World Championships in athletics on Monday, completing a double for her country in the premier event.
A day after Usain Bolt notched a famous win in the men’s 100M, Fraser-Pryce stormed the centre-stage at the Bird’s Nest but without any of the tension that had surrounded her famous compatriot’s triumph. The 29-year-old’s unprecedented third gold medal in this event came in 10.76 seconds, the second quickest of the season, at a venue where, like Bolt, she had also announced her arrival in 2008.
Historic wins and stunning upsets had marked the third night of the championships before Fraser-Pryce stepped up to defend her title. Ezekel Kemboi had claimed his fourth straight 3000M steeplechase gold while the much fancied Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie once again faltered in his bid to win a world title. And there was Caterine Ibarguen extending her winning streak to 29 with her maiden world title in triple jump. A little while later came Fraser-Pryce with a lesson in demolition job.
She had rolled through the first round and the semifinals, with timings of 10.88 and 10.82 but Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands had caused a ripple or two with her best of 10.83 in her semifinal heat. When the final arrived though, the Jamaican lifted her game to another level.
The pocket-rocket with green hair-extension and yellow plastic flowers on her forehead wasn’t the quickest to react to the gun but she simply blazed away from the start, wresting control early in lane five and dominating right through. Eyes bulging, she powered away and thrust her right arm into the air to signal another famous win.
Schippers fell behind at the start and with another Jamaican Veronica Campbell Brown also pushing hard, the Dutchwoman was forced to script a comeback act. The 23-year-old, who left heptathlon to focus on sprints this season, did that exceedingly well to snatch the silver in 10.81, improving her national record for the second time on the night. Behind her, American Torie Bowie also rallied to win the bronze in 10.86 seconds.
“First of all, I believe in His will, in God’s plan,” said a delighted Fraser-Pryce. “Then there is always the excitement of running races for me. I am happy and proud to defend my title. My message always is: No matter where you are from, no matter which past you have, it is all about your future and your goals,” she added, confirming that she won’t run the 200 metres.
Kemboi, the Olympic champion in 2004 and 2012, played the waiting game to perfection to claim his fourth gold, taking off with about 300 metres left to time 8:11.28 and lead a third Kenyan sweep in 3000M steeplechase, after successful assaults in 1997 and 2007. In fact, the first four finishers were all Kenyans.
Olympic champion Lavillenie was left to clutch his head in despair after his failure to clear 5.90 metres. Canada’s Shawnacy Barber, the Pan Am Games winner, cleared it in his first attempt to take the gold while defending champion Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany won silver on a countback, also with 5.90. Lavillenie, the only man to clear 6.00 metres this season, shared bronze with two others – Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland – all three having cleared 5.80.
“Don’t know what happened. 5.90 is not usually difficult for me but today, it just didn’t work for me. Pole vault is like that,” rued Lavillenie.
Another surprise result of the night was the exit of Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott in men’s javelin qualification. The Trinidadian, who had a best of 90.16M this season, could only manage 76.83 on the night.
Results: Men: 3000M steeplechase: Ezekiel Kemboi (Kenya) 8:11.28, 1; Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya) 8:12.38, 2; Brimin Kipruto (Kenya) 8:12.54, 3.
Pole vault: Shawnacy Barber (Canada) 5.90 metres, 1; Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) 5.90, 2; Renau Lavillenie (France), Piotr Lisek (Poland), Pawel Wojciechowski (Poland) 5.80, 3.
Women: 100M: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) 10.76 seconds, 1; Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) 10.81, 2; Tori Bowie (USA) 10.86, 3.
Triple jump: Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia) 14.90 metres, 1; Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko (Israel) 14.78, 2; Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 14.77, 3.
10000M: Vivian Cheruiot (Kenya) 31:41.31, 1; Gelete Bura (Ethiopia) 31:41.77, 2; Emily Infeld (USA) 31:43.49, 3.