If you measure Usain Bolt by the world records he set in 2009, his 2013 season looks relatively pedestrian. Looking at the big picture, however, Bolt has been the world's premier sprinter at both 100 and 200 meters since 2008, a remarkable run of domination that shows no sign of ending. Bolt had the 200-meter final well in hand by the midway point Saturday and cruised to victory in a world-leading 19.66 seconds. Bolt has now won the 100-200 double at four of the last five major championships - the 2009 and 2013 World Championships plus the 2008 and 2012 Olympics - and undoubtedly would've been five-for-five if he hadn't false-started in the Daegu 100-meter final in 2011. Fellow Jamaican Warren Weir was second Saturday in a personal best 19.79, while American Curtis Mitchell closed fast to earn the bronze in 20.04, edging Nickel Ashmeade by .01 and spoiling Jamaican hopes for a medals sweep.
After a couple of narrow second-place finishes for the U.S. in earlier events Saturday, the Americans broke through in the 100-meter hurdles as Brianna Rollins, who turns 22 on Sunday, gave herself an early birthday present of a gold medal. Rollins trailed defending Olympic and World champion Sally Pearson at the start, but pulled even midway through the race, then led over the final hurdles to win in 12.44 seconds. Pearson, rallying from an early-season injury in recent weeks, ran a season-best 12.50 to take second, while Great Britain's Tiffany Porter took third in a personal best 12.55, moving into the medals after placing fourth in Daegu in 2011.
Last year's Olympic marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, wore down one competitor after another while running through Moscow's streets Saturday, eventually crossing the line first in 2:09.51. Kiprotch lagged a bit early on, trailing the large leading pack by 10 seconds after 10 kilometers, but he caught up by the 15-km mark. The lead group slowly thinned to six runners after 35 km, then three - Kiprotich plus Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa and Tadese Tola - at 40 km. Kiprotich and Desisa then left Tola behind, while Desisa simply followed Kiprotch wherever the Ugandan went, even when Kiprotich weaved a bit across the road. Kiprotich finally left Desisa behind as he approached the stadium, which he entered alone. After a victorious lap of the Luzhniki Stadium track, Kiprotich broke the tape to take the gold medal. Desisa gained the silver in 2:10:12, with Tola third in 2:20:23.
As American supporters feared, the loss of Allyson Felix in the 4 x 400-meter relay was too much to overcome, as the U.S. had to settle for second behind Russia in the relay final. Lead runner Jessica Beard gave the U.S. an early advantage before handing off to Natasha Hastings. Yulia Gushchina opened for Russia, but it was No. 2 runner Tatyana Firova who closed the gap late in the second lap, then No. 3 runner Kseniya Ryzhova passed American Ashley Spencer, and the Russians never lost the lead again. Antonina Krivoshapka ran the anchor for Russia, while American Francena McCorory charged within about a stride in the home stretch, but Krivoshapka held on as the Russians won in 3:20.19 to the U.S. time of 3:20.41. The British team, anchored by Christine Ohuruogu but without the injured Perri Shakes-Drayton, took the bronze in 3:22.61.
Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic set a high first-round standard in the javelin throw final with a toss measuring 87.17 meters (285 feet, 11 inches). Vesely never came close to that distance again, but no one else matched him either, giving Vesely his first global championship medal, after taking fourth in the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics. Finland's Tero Pitkamaki steadily approached Vesely's distance in the early rounds, but peaked just short at 87.07/285-8 in the third round to take the bronze. Meanwhile, Julius Yego came within one round of earning Kenya's first-ever World Championship field medal. Yego advanced from eighth place to third by throwing a national record 85.40/280-2 in the fifth round. But Russia's Dmitri Tarabin, with the Moscow crowd cheering him on, threw 86.23/282-10 on his final try to take the bronze medal, leaving Yego in fourth.
It's no surprise that a Russian won the women's high jump, but the fact that the Russian's name is Svetlana Shkolina, not Anna Chicherova, is a surprise. Chicherova, plus American Brigetta Barrett and veteran Ruth Beitia of Spain, were all perfect through 1.97/6-5½ in Saturday's final, while Shkolina had a miss at 1.93/6-4. Only Barrett and Shkolina survived 2.00/6-6¾ - both with first-attempt clearances - leaving Chicherova and Beitia to share the bronze. Barrett, who placed second to Chicherova at the 2012 Olympics, then missed at 2.03/6-7¾, while Shkolina cleared on her first try, giving her a personal best, and eventually the gold medal. Barrett missed twice more at 2.03 to take the silver.
Double Olympic 5000-meter champion Meseret Defar won her second World championship at that distance on Saturday, taking the gold medal in 14:50.19. The Ethiopian passed Kenya's Mercy Cherono on the back stretch of the final lap, leaving Cherono to accept the silver in 14:51.22, with Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana third in 14:51.33.
The 2013 World Championships conclude Sunday with the 4 x 100-meter relays, as well as finals in the men's triple jump and 1500 meters, plus the women's javelin throw and 800-meter run.