BEIJING (Reuters) - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce proved once again that Usain Bolt is not the only Jamaican who can monopolize global sprint titles when she claimed an unprecedented third 100 meters world championship gold medal in Beijing on Monday.
Like Bolt in the men’s final on Sunday, the 28-year-old returned to the scene of her breakthrough triumph at the Beijing Olympics and secured a fifth title in the last six blue riband sprints at the Olympics and world championships.
With dyed green braids flowing behind her and yellow flowers framing her face, Fraser-Pryce powered down the track to victory in 10.76 seconds, beating fast-finishing Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers by five hundredths of a second.
Her determination for improvement is such, however, that mere victory was not enough and she was immediately plotting her entry into the exclusive club of women who have run under 10.7 seconds — currently headed by world record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner.
“I am happy and proud to defend my third title in a row,” she said, adding that she would not defend her 200 meters title in Beijing.
“I think 10.60 is there. Hopefully in my next race I’ll get it together. I just trust in God and I work hard, and focus on executing. I don’t focus on just winning but on executing.”
Former heptathlete Schippers ran a Dutch record of 10.81 to become the first European to win a medal in the 100 meters at a world championships since France’s Christine Arron a decade ago.
“It’s crazy,” she said after pushing American Tori Bowie into third place. “My start was good, I thought I was close enough to medal. Wow.”
If the Jamaicans have dominated the sprints in the seven years since Beijing hosted the Olympics, Kenya has been a force in middle and long distance running for far longer.
Ezekiel Kemboi underlined his status as one of the greatest athletes to have emerged from the country when he ran a sub-57 second final lap to lead a Kenyan podium sweep and claim the 3,000m steeplechase crown for a record fourth time.
Kemboi, who clocked eight minutes 11.28 seconds, added the title to those he won in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and to the Olympic gold he landed in 2004 and 2012.
“On the last lap nobody could follow me,” he said. “My next big goal of course are the Rio Olympic Games.”
Kemboi’s victory came soon after his compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot had shown a considerable kick of her own over the final 400 meters to win her second 10,000 meters world title after her long distance double at the 2011 championships.
The victory was particularly precious, she said, as it came with her still on the comeback trail after skipping the 2014 season to have a child.
“I dedicate this medal to my son,” she said. “I am not going to double here, this is it.”
Another dominant athlete who brought a little color to the evening was Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen, who has not been defeated in 29 competitions since she won silver at the 2012 London Olympics.
Her fifth-round effort of 14.90 meters secured a second successive world championship gold medal and she celebrated with a sombrero on her head.
“It gives me big joy to make my country happy,” she said. “I love triple jump.”
Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko won Israel’s first women’s world championship medal in second place, while Olympic champion Olga Rypakova, another new mum, took bronze.
Olympic champion and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie has been dominant in the pole vault over the last few years but he will leave the world championships for the fourth time without the gold medal.Canada’s Shawn Barber nailed his first four jumps to win the title with a leap of 5.90 meters, a height Lavillenie failed to clear in three attempts
The Frenchman will take home a fourth bronze medal after sharing third place with Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski behind defending champion Raphael Holzdeppe.
“I was in good shape and I don’t really know what went wrong,” he said. “5.90 meters usually is not difficult for me. But it happens to everyone... Pole vault is like this. You never know.”
Lavillenie was not the only Olympic champion to have a disappointing day with Trinidadian Keshorn Walcott failing to get through qualifying in the javelin.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar