Bohdan Bondarenko needed just four attempts to win the men's high jump title at the World Championships Thursday. The Ukrainian cleared at 2.29 meters (7 feet, 6 inches), passed the next height, then cleared 2.35/7-8½. Bondarenko, showing remarkable confidence, passed at 2.38/7-9¾ - the winning height at the 2012 Olympics - then missed his first try at 2.41/7-10¾ before clearing on his second attempt to set a new World Championships record. Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar cleared 2.38 on his first try to earn the silver, while Derek Drouin topped 2.38 on his second jump to gain the bronze and a new Canadian record. Bondarenko ended the competition with three misses at a potential world-record height of 2.46/8-¾. Cuba's Javier Sotomayor holds the current world mark of 2.45/8-½.
Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic trailed Americans Lashinda Demus and Dalilah Muhammad early in the 400-meter hurdles final, but Hejnova took the lead in the final turn and sprinted away from the field for a dominating victory in a world-leading 52.83 seconds. Muhammad took second in 54.09 and Demus third in 54.27.
Jehue Gordon of Trinidad & Tobago nipped American Michael Tinsley by one-hundredth of a second in an exciting finish in the men's 400-meter hurdles final Thursday. Tinsley and Javier Culson started fast, but Culson faded down the stretch. Tinsley remained strong, running a personal best 47.70, but Gordon caught up during the final two hurdles and his lean at the finish gave him the gold medal in a world-leading 47.69. Emir Bekric was a surprising third, running a Serbian national record 48.05.
Favorite Abeba Aregawi, running for Sweden, took the lead on the last lap of the women's 1500 meters and held on to win the gold in 4:02.67. Defending World champion Jenny Simpson of the U.S., who won in Daegu with a late charge, took the early lead this time and remained on top until Aregawi moved ahead on the final lap. Simpson remained strong to the line and gained the silver in 4:02.99, with Kenya's Hellen Obiri third in 4:03.86. Mary Cain, the 17-year-old American who showed all week that she'll be a major force in the near future, was tenth in 4:07.19.
In the steeplechase final, Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi showed the form that made him a two-time Olympic and two-time World champion, shooting to the front before the final turn and proceeding to win his third consecutive World title, in 8:06.01. Fellow Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto led much of the way and made a late charge but had to settle for second in 8:06.37. France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took third place in 8:07.86. Mekhissi-Benabbad made the initial move to the front early in the last lap, but Kemboi followed immediately behind him and continued to the front heading into the final water jump.
The second round proved decisive in the women's triple jump competition, as all the medals were decided on those second attempts. Columbia's Caterine Ibarguen, who fouled on her first try, leaped a world-leading 14.85/48-8½ in the second round, which stood up for the gold medal. Russia's Ekaterina Koneva was next at 14.81/48-7, with defending World champion Olha Saladuha of Ukraine third in 14.65/48-¾.
The United States' B team was the No. 1 group on the track during Thursday's 4 x 400-meter relay heats. James Harris, David Verburg, Joshua Mance and Arman Hall won their heat in 2:59.85, making the U.S. the only team below three minutes. Jamaica and Russia won the other heats, with Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain and Belgium all running below 3:01. But the U.S., which will add LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay to its lineup, is the clear favorite in Friday's final.
After leading the way during the heats, Allyson Felix again posted the fastest time in the women's 200-meter semifinals on Thursday, finishing in 22.30. Murielle Ahoure and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the other two heats, although Blessing Okagbare was second overall, in 22.39, after running in Felix's heat. Three Americans will run in Friday's final, with only Kimberlyn Duncan failing to qualify.