Records fall as new stars rise

What you need to know:

Kenyans burst championship
feats, Semenya makes fodder for rumour mill

The offices of German sportswear manufacturers Puma on Rosenthaler Strasse in downtown Berlin were on Monday jam-packed as the hangover of a successful 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics slowly fizzled out.

With most teams out of the capital after Sunday’s closing ceremony attended by German president Horst Kohler and IAAF head Lamine Diack, the man of these championships, Usain Bolt, was still attracting fans like a magnet.

The Jamaican was at the Puma stores, signing autographs and meeting thousands of fans who had formed a two kilometre-long queue for their turn to meet the fastest man. From here, Bolt will join most of the medallists at Friday’s Weltklasse Golden League meeting in Zurich.

As South Koreans prepare to host the 13th World Championships in Daegu in 2011, Berliners will be proud of a successful nine-day event.

Over 2,000 athletes from 202 nations competed for 142 medals, with USA topping the log with 22 medals. Jamaica and Russia had 13 each but Jamaica finished second, Kenya third and Russia fourth overall on the gold medal count.

Kenya won four gold, five silver and two bronze medals. The gold went to Linet Masai (10,000m), Ezekiel Kemboi (steeplechase), Vivian Cheruiyot (5,000m) and Abel Kirui (marathon).

Richard Mateelong (steeplechase), Sylvia Kibet (5,000m), Emmanuel Mutai (marathon), Alfred Kirwa Yego (800m) and Janeth Jepkosgei (800m) took silver. The two bronze medals were won by Milcah Chemos (women’s steeplechase) and Moses Masai (10,000m).

Cheruiyot’s gold was the first by a Kenyan woman in the 5,000m while Masai’s 10,000m victory was the first since Sally Barsosio’s in Athens, Greece, in 1997.

Chemos stands out

Chemos stands out for praise as she won the steeplechase bronze just five months after taking up the sport, encouraged by her husband at their Kenya Police Training College base in Kiganjo.

Bolt’s two world records clearly eclipsed all in Berlin where three world records in all fell, the third by Poland’s Anita Wlodrczyk, who improved the hammer throw mark to 77.96 metres.

Besides, six championship records were broken, 16 world leading times set, four area records shattered and 48 national marks improved on.

Of the six championship records, two went to Kenyans – Ezekiel Kemboi (steeplechase) and Abel Kirui (marathon). Kemboi improved his coach Moses Kiptanui’s 1995 record of 8:04.16 to 8:00.43, while the new marathon world champion, Kirui, set a new championship record of 2:06.54, bettering Moroccan Jaouad Gharib’s 2:08.31 set in 2003.

Biggest upset

There were 241 personal best times and 464 season’s bests set at these games that saw 518,582 spectators turn up at the Olympiastadion for the track and field events. Walks and marathons had a combined attendance of 1,395,000 on the Berlin streets.

There were several upsets and fresh stars too, the biggest upset, perhaps, being the failure by Russia’s pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva to get a medal. Poland’s Anna Rogowska won gold and Chelsea Johnson (USA) silver as Monica Pyrek fittingly completed the Poles’ pole vault dominance.

South African “tom-boy” Caster Semenya, 18, was the biggest talking point here after coming out of the blues to take the women’s 800m from defending champion Jepkosgei in a world leading 1:55.45.