The 26,000 crowd jammed into the Letzigrund Stadion were still recovering from the shock of Usain Bolt failing to beat the clock in the Weltklasse Golden League meeting last night when up popped Yelena Isinbayeva with a world record jolt from the blue. It was as if the world had turned on its head.
That was certainly the case with what we had witnessed at the World Championships in Berlin. In the German capital, Isinbayeva had been the fall girl, drawing a blank with her pole vault version of Russian roulette – failing to register a valid clearance, let alone complete the perceived formality of holding on to her global crown. "I was over-confident," she reflected before last night's meeting. "I took victory for granted."
Last night in Zurich she was over 5.06m at the first time of asking – a 1cm improvement on the world record height she had established in winning Olympic gold in Beijing last year. It was the 25th world record in the Letzigrund arena and the 27th of Isinbayeva's pole vaulting career, one for every year of her life.
"It's like a dream for me after Berlin," the Russian said. "I did nothing there. I did zero. It was important for me to do something tonight. It''s really unbelievable, crazy."
It earnt Isinbayeva more than just swift revenge against Anna Rogowska, the pole vaulting Pole who took gold in Berlin and who finished runner-up last night with a clearance of 4.76m (in a field in which Britain's Kate Dennison placed seventh with 4.41m).
She claimed the world record bonus of a $50,000 (£30,700) cheque and a 1kg gold bar – with the promise of another big pay day to come in Brussels next Friday. Like Kenenisa Bekele, who prevailed in the 5,000m last night, and Sanya Richards, a peerless winner of the 400m, Isinbayeva goes into the final Golden League meeting of the summer with a claim on the $1m jackpot shared by any athletes who can go through the season undefeated.
Running in the 100m last night, Bolt did enough to win – just enough, easing past his compatriot Asafa Powell in the final 15m after emerging from his starting blocks about as urgently as he had trundled round the track on a rickshaw at the start of the evening. The world record figures he set in the World Championship final in the Olympiastadion 13 days ago, 9.58sec, were never remotely in danger.
Bolt did not even get close to Powell's stadium record, 9.77sec. He was the last of the nine-man field to rise from the blocks and at the halfway stage it looked as if the world and Olympic champion and world record holder might even be in danger of losing his record of victories in individual finals that stretched back to the DN Galan meeting in Stockholm on 27 July last year.
On that occasion, it was Powell who beat him over 100m and his compatriot was ahead of him for 85m last night, before Bolt eased past to snatch victory in 9.81sec – 0.07sec ahead of Powell. "I would say it was a shaky race," Bolt said. "My body was sitting at the start and I was a little bit tired through the race. I needed to pick up my speed at the end. But it's alright. All things considered, the time is not bad... Now for the relay."
And what a relay it was at the end of the night. Running the anchor leg for Jamaica, Bolt started three metres down on Wallace Spearmon but more than made up the deficit, turning to smile at the American before before crossing the line with victory in the bag in 37.70sec.