Isinbayeva implodes again
Daegu - Yelena Isinbayeva extended her string of failures at major events on Tuesday, going under the pole vault bar on her final attempt while five other competitors were still looking for gold at the World Championships.
When the Russian was packing up her bag, Fabiana Murer of Brazil added the outdoor world title to the indoor championship only one year before the London Olympics.
Murer set a South American record of 4.85 meters to beat Martina Strutz, who set a German record of 4.80. Svetlana Feofanova gave Russia bronze with a height of 4.75.
"I lost again. But it's OK and I'm optimistic for next year," Isinbayeva said. "The Olympic year is more important. I was just unlucky."
In the 800 meters, world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya beat rival Abubaker Kaki of Sudan to win his first world title with yet another dominating performance. It was the 32nd straight race he has won in the last two years.
In a thrilling 400 final, Kirani James of Grenada fought from behind to beat favourite LaShawn Merritt of the United States at the line, and Robert Harting of Germany extended his domination of the men's discus. Also, Tatyana Chernova of Russia ended the reign of Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, coming from behind to take gold.
But in front of 40 000 fans at the Daegu Stadium, nothing could match another implosion by Isinbayeva.
Imperial despite recent performances to back it up, the two-time Olympic champion got into the competition last when others were already fighting for survival at a height of 4.65 meters.
It turned out to be the only mark she would clear, only a slight improvement over her no-height performance at the worlds in Berlin two years ago, starting a spiral of decline. She took a one-year break after losing to Murer at last year's indoor championships, hoping to come back stronger in Daegu.
It didn't matter.
When she used to go into a huddle, covered by blankets or towels to concentrate, her competitors used to fail. Now, oblivious to the reclining former world champion, they went higher and higher, leaving the Russian behind.
After Isinbayeva first missed at 4.75 meters, her rivals kept scaling the bar, forcing her into two attempts at 4.80 to even have a shot at the title. She failed.
Along with Chernova, Yuliya Zaripova put some balm on Russia's wound by winning the steeplechase ahead of Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia.
In the heptathlon, Chernova made the difference in the javelin early in the day, when the Russian's season best throw of 52.95 meters contrasted sharply with Ennis' 39.95.
In the concluding 800, Chernova knew she could lose nine seconds to the Briton, but with a great finishing kick almost beat the hard-charging Ennis at the tape.
It left the Russian with a total of 6,880 points, compared to 6,751 for Ennis. Jennifer Oeser of Germany took bronze with 6,572.
"It was so easy for me. It was a great end of the year and will help me prepare for the Olympics with the sense that I am a winner," Chernova said. "It strengthened the spirit and, if I can win over Jessica here, it can give me confidence for the future."
Over the past two years, Ennis won gold in the multi-event indoor and outdoor world championships and at the European championships. She was counting on another outstanding performance for a boost of confidence ahead of her home Olympics in London next year.
"It was always going to be tough this year and will be tougher next year," Ennis said.
Instead, it was the 23-year-old Chernova who won her first major title.
In early action, 10,000 champion Vivian Cheruiyot coasted in the 5,000 heats to qualify for a final in which the defending champion can clinch a long-distance double.