A terrible start prevented Usain Bolt from providing a perfect finish to his stellar individual sprinting career on a night when his perennial rival Justin Gatlin, five years his senior at 35, came through to win.
The 30-year-old Jamaican, seeking to add a final global 100m gold to his unrivalled collection, had to settle for bronze – his first at a championships where he has amassed 11 golds and two silvers – in 9.95.
Silver went to the 22-year-old US sprinter who still leads this year’s world list, Christian Coleman, who finished in 9.94.
But, just as he had at last month’s US Championships, Gatlin – who has served two doping bans – came through over the final 15 metres to beat his young rival, finishing in a season’s best of 9.92 to reclaim a title he last won in 2005.
Although Bolt will finish his career by running the 4x100m for his country here, this was a farewell to an individual sporting legend whose charisma rivals that of the late Muhammad Ali.
As Gatlin kneeled on the track in tearful disbelief, offering at the same time a salute to the beaten champion, Bolt – as big in defeat as he has always been in victory – strolled over and gave him a warm hug, exchanging a few words.
“Usain said to me ‘congratulations, you deserve it’. He knows how hard I work,” Gatlin said later.
Bolt’s finale continued with an unhurried lap of honour, as he bent to kiss the lane he had run in before obliging with the ‘To The World’ stance before bowing to the adoring supporters who had remained behind to wave their green and yellow flags and scarves at him. Never has a 100m bronze medallist been so feted.
Last to be introduced a rapturous crowd before the final, he had sauntered through the entrance with the confident smile of a talkshow host. But for once, the confidence was misplaced.
“London, I really appreciate the support you gave me, it’s been brilliant,” said Bolt. “I wanted to end with a gold, but it’s just one of those things. I want to thank you for your support. Thank you.”
Ayana in a league of her own as she wins 10,000m gold
It was just like old times in the women’s 10,000m final as Tirunesh Dibaba – five-times a world champion and three times an Olympic champion – sprinted clear to finish ahead of her Kenyan rival Agnes Tirop.
But this time the 32-year-old Dibaba’s reward was silver on a night when her compatriot Almaz Ayana, who succeeded her as Olympic champion in a world record of 29:17.45, finished fully 300 metres clear after breaking away shortly before the halfway mark of what had started out as a slow race to earn another global gold in 30:16.32.
Dibaba clocked 31:02.69, with the 21-year-old Tirop, who became the second youngest winner of the world cross-country title two years ago, earning bronze in a personal best of 31:03.50.
Ayana completed the final 3000m in 8:41 and the second 5000m in 14:25.
Dibaba, who had been seeking a sixth world gold medal – and a fourth at 10,000m – was also something of a mystery given that she had not raced on the circuit following her 2:17:56 clocking in finishing second at the London Marathon this April.
"I am very happy to win this title, much more than when I won the Olympic gold because I have been sick this year and didn't expect it,” said Ayana. “In fact, this was my first race of 2017."
Manyonga returns from injury to win long jump gold
Luvo Manyonga, whose domination of the men’s long jump this season was abruptly interrupted by the ankle injury he suffered in winning last month’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, showed he had fully recovered here as he won a hugely volatile and competitive final with a best effort of 8.48m.
Early leader Jarrion Lawson of the United States produced an inspired final effort that fell just four centimetres short of reclaiming top spot, settling for silver ahead of Manyonga’s South African compatriot Ruswahl Samaai, who took bronze with 8.32m, in a final that saw 10 of the 12 finalists registering jumps beyond eight metres.
The two South Africans have thus been suitably rewarded at the end of a season in which they have claimed 11 of the 12 best jumps, with Manyonga leading that list with the 8.65m he produced at altitude in Potchefstroom back in April.
It was a measure of how fit and happy Manyonga felt that the elected to take his final jump even though the gold was secure. It was a huge effort – he landed at about the 8.70m mark – but the red flag indicated a foul. No matter. He was soon lying flat on his back in the sand of the landing pit, moving his arms and legs up and down; a happy starfish.
Gold for Gudzius – by two centimetres
Andrius Gudzius produced the discus throw of his life, 69.21m, to earn gold by a margin of just two centimetres from the Swede who heads this year’s world list with 71.29m, Daniel Stahl.
The 26-year-old Lithuanian, world U20 champion in 2010, produced his decisive effort in the second round and there was nothing a field that included Poland’s defending champion Piotr Malachowski and the man who took Olympic gold in this stadium five years ago, Germany’s Robert Harting, could do about it.
Another personal best throw, 68.03m, earned bronze for Mason Finley of the United States ahead of Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres, whose best was 65.83m. Malachowski was fifth with 65.24m, and Harting reached 65.10m for sixth place.
"Every athlete must be dreaming about the world title and I managed it tonight,” said Gudzius. “I still cannot believe it and I think I need some time to understand what has just happened. I am so delighted. I was thinking about a medal but I did not expect gold.”
Schafer leads Thiam overnight in heptathlon
Germany’s Carolin Schafer finished the opening day of the heptathlon with a narrow lead over Belgium’s Olympic champion Nafi Thiam, 4036 points to 4014, after clocking 23.58 in the fourth and final event of the first day, the 200m, following home Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who won in 22.86.
Third place was held overnight by Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodriguez, who had produced three personal bests in the earlier high jump.
For Johnson-Thompson it was a good end to a day that had started badly when, despite having a high jump best of 1.98m, she could only manage a best of 1.80m.
This event had provided the most arresting action of the morning session as Rodriguez, who arrived here with a high jump personal best of 1.87m, set successive bests of 1.89m, 1.92m and – to her own growing delight and that of her coach – 1.95m, which was as high as the Olympic champion, who has a personal best of 1.98m, could manage herself.
Thiam led proceedings by only eight points after the high jump but extended her lead out to 72 points after the shot put. The Belgian had the best mark across the two pools with 15.17m to bring her tally up to 3087 points while Schafer moved up into second after setting a 14.84m personal best.
Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon was the fastest qualifier for Monday’s 1500m final, winning the opening semifinal in 4:03.54, just ahead of Britain’s Laura Muir, who clocked 4:03.64 and the fast-finishing Caster Semenya, who will also contest the 800m here.
But Ethiopia’s world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba faded to sixth, one place outside the automatic qualifying positions, and had to wait before hearing she had gone through as one of the two non-automatic qualifiers with 4:05.33.
A dramatic second semifinal was won by Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in 4:03.77. Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen made a big move at the start of the penultimate lap, and took the bell with a 30-metre lead, but was caught by the pack around the final bend.
Earlier, world and Olympic 400m champion Wayde Van Niekerk and his Botswana rival Isaac Makwala, both seeking a 200m/400m double here, had adopted different tactics in their first-round heats. The South African won his heat with minimum effort in 45.27, while Makwala produced the fastest time of the day, 44.55. Steven Gardiner of The Bahamas, Fred Kerley of the United States and Makwala’s 20-year-old teammate Baboloki Thebe were all impressive heat winners.
Medal reallocation ceremonies
The evening programme began with three reallocation ceremonies for medals from the 2007 IAAF World Championships. Rutger Smith of the Netherlands was awarded the shot put bronze medal, Ukraine’s Iryna Lishchynska was given the 1500m silver medal, while USA’s Kara Goucher and Britain’s Jo Pavey received the 10,000m silver and bronze medals respectively.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF