If Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was green with envy at the adulation received by her fellow countryman Usain Bolt the previous day in the men’s 100 metres final, then it showed only in the beauty salon owner’s choice of hair colour as she defended her own sprint title.
Fraser-Pryce’s triple sprint gold at the last World Championships in Moscow two years ago was received like a mere drop in the ocean compared with the attention received by Bolt. Unlike for Bolt, though, a trio of golds here is no longer a possibility, Fraser-Pryce having committed herself to just the 100m and 4x100m relay. But she did retain her crown as the world’s leading sprinter as she led from start to finish to win in a time of 10.76sec.
The Netherlands sprinter Dafne Schippers finished like a thunderbolt and was left to wonder what might have been following a sluggish start. But it was still a silver medal, in a national record of 10.81sec, and vindicated the decision of the former heptathlon rival to Jessica Ennis-Hill to focus on sprinting. Tori Bowie, of the United States, took the bronze.
Despite the gold, Fraser-Pryce voiced her annoyance at failing to go under 10.7sec for the first time in her career. “I’m getting tired of 10.7sec,” she said. “I just want to put a good race together and, hopefully, in the next race I get the time I’m working for. I definitely think a 10.6 is there. Hopefully, I will get it together. But I am happy and proud to defend my world title and win three in a row.”
While Fraser-Pryce’s victory followed the season’s form book, the men’s pole vault did anything but as the usually imperious Renaud Lavillenie failed to clear a height of 5.90m.
The Frenchman has cleared six metres with ease in recent seasons, including 2015, but he had to make do with bronze behind the surprise gold medallist Shawnacy Barber, of Canada, and Germany’s Raphael Marcel Holzdeppe, the defending champion, on countback after both men failed to clear six metres.
Lavillenie was at a loss to explain his shock defeat. “I was in good shape and I don’t really know what went wrong,” he said. “Clearing 5.9 is not usually difficult for me but it happens to everyone. Today it was simply not supposed to work, not to happen.”
There was better news for British pole-vaulter Holly Bleasdale, who has endured a tumultuous two seasons with injuries but who sailed over every height to book her passage into the final.
“It was so amazing to be back out there just competing,” she said. “I came in expecting to qualify for the final, but the way I qualified was amazing. I surprised myself after the two long years I’ve had. You never know what can happen in the final.”
The defending 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu showed a timely return to form to win her heat in 51.01sec, afterwards describing it as a “nice start”.
But there were mixed fortunes for Britain’s men in their 400m semi-finals. Martyn Rooney, whose wife Kate was due to give birth on Monday, failed to emulate his form from the heats, when he clocked a personal best, while Rabah Yousif qualified as a fastest loser for the final.
On paper, the former Sudanese refugee believes he has a chance of a medal but, such is the pace of his rivals, that seems hard to believe.
“If you ask some of my team-mates, I was going on about the British record,” he said, after setting a personal best of 44.54sec. “I felt like I could go out and run sub-44.3, but I will take it.
“I’m in the final, so I can’t complain. But I am going to declare war now. I am going to chase after a medal.”Reuse content