Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers held on to retain her world 200m title late on Friday as the United States had another night to savour at the London Stadium and two experienced campaigners claimed more gold.
Schippers, who won bronze in the 100m, roared off the bend into the final straight and looked as if she would coast safely home.
But the Dutchwoman began to tie up and only a savage dip at the line that saw her clock 22.05 seconds edged her past Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou by just three-hundredths of a second. It was Ta Lou’s second silver after her efforts in the 100m won by American Tori Bowie, absent from the 200.
“I fought for that,” said Schippers, who won 200m silver in the Rio Olympics. “I have worked so hard this year so I am so happy. It’s so cool. Two times in a row is very special too.
“It was very important to win. I worked so hard in the last years and last year was not the easiest for me. I changed everything and got a new coach, so I’m very happy. It’s great, especially with a gold medal, I am very pleased. My secret is enjoying the sport and enjoying my racing. I feel a little bit nervous starting out, but I’m a final runner and I’m grateful for the experience now it’s over.”
Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who in the space of 20 metres fell from clear leader to finish fourth in the 400m, had the consolation of claiming bronze in 22.15sec.
For all the excitement of the sprint, the most dramatic race of the evening was the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
It had everything, from one of the four Kenyans actually running past the first water jump to a fall to smart tactical racing that had the crowd on their feet.
Olympic bronze medallist Emma Coburn finished the final 150 metres strongly for a first American steeplechase gold in a championships record 9min 02.58sec, with teammate Courtney Frerichs finished in a personal best of 9:03.77 to take silver ahead of Kenya’s defending champion Hyvin Jepkemoi.
“Oh my goodness, what a race to be part of!” Coburn said.
“I have memories from 2015 and 2016 where I went too early for the last push, so I just had to keep trusting myself and be patient, and it looks like it paid off. I just expected the others to finish quickly, so I just kept pushing to make sure I got that gold that I wanted so much.”
In the field, American Brittney Reese claimed a fourth world title in the long jump, having previously won in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
“It has been an emotional few weeks for me after my grandfather passed away two weeks ago,” said Reese, who won with a best effort of 7.02 metres.
“But I was doing this for him and I know he would have been cheering for me. I’m a stronger person than I probably think I am. It has shown me mentally at my best.”
Pawel Fajdek, the colourful hammer champion from Poland, became the first man to win three successive world championship titles with a dominant triumph.
The bespectacled, tattooed 28-year-old, whose world championship triumphs have gone hand in hand with Olympic calamities, completed a hammer double for Poland after Anita Wlodarczyk’s triumph in the women’s event.
The silver went to Russian Valeriy Pronkin, competing under the neutral flag after being given permission to take part by the IAAF only last month, as he produced a final-round throw to consign Fajdek’s Polish rival Wojciech Nowicki to the bronze.
It was a typically commanding victory for one of the biggest favourites of the entire championships as the bearded Fajdek produced easily the three biggest throws of the night, headed by one of 79.81 metres.
Inexplicably, Fajdek had failed to qualify for both the 2016 Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro and the 2012 final in this same London stadium but after producing the eight best throws of the year, he was not about to let yet another win slip this time. After a no-throw and a disappointing second effort, he unleashed successive efforts of 79.73m, 79.81m and 79.40m that blew away the field. Nowicki looked set to make it a Polish one-two with his third-round effort of 78.03, before Pronkin surpassed that mark by 13 centimetres at the last time of asking.
There were also two silver medals for Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag as their country’s federation remains banned by the IAAF over a widespread state-sponsored doping programme.
Dariya Klishina split the Americans in the women’s long jump, with veteran
defending champion Tianna Bartoletta taking bronze, and Valeriy Pronkin was sandwiched in between Fajdek and bronze medal winner Wojciech Nowicki in the hammer.
“This is my first medal from a world championships, and, for me, it’s my most important result,” said Klishina.
“I was waiting many years (for 7m). I wanted to show this result in an Olympic Games, but I did not have a chance with the whole situation around me. Now it was the right time, at a world championships, to jump this.”