THE end of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing saw Britain sitting fourth in the medal table with four golds, behind the USA in third, with Jamaica in second and Kenya topping the list, both with seven golds.
It’s an unfamiliar position for the USA, a giant sandwiched between much smaller countries. Jamaica is ruling the track in the sprints, Usain Bolt defying all doubters to reclaim his title as the king of speed, and powering his relay team once more to gold, while Jamaican women too are leading the world over short distances.
Kenya’s winners were more varied, still racing ahead over middle and long distances, but also picking up gold in the men’s 400m hurdles and javelin, although thrower Julius Yego’s medal could be in doubt after a provisional positive drugs test. If the result is confirmed, it could be a sad end to a fairy-tale story for an athlete who said he learned how to throw the javelin by watching Youtube training videos.
The UK’s three golden heroes have all triumphed to reassert their claims on the top place in their events. Jessica Ennis-Hill blew away doubters who claimed it wasn’t possible for a woman to return to the same level of competitiveness in the heptathlon after having a child.
Long-jumper Greg Rutherford added the World title to his Olympic, Commonwealth and European titles, after failing to reach the final of the World Championships two years ago, a residual hamstring injury hampering his performance. There were no such problems this year, his second best lifetime jump clinching him the gold in style.
And then there was Mo. Mo Farah’s six gold medals – a ‘triple double’ in the 10,000m and 5,000m from the 2012 Olympics and the last two Worlds – is a feat never achieved by any other athlete in history, and raises the question: Could he be the UK’s greatest ever sportsman?