BERLIN — Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva lost her five-year stranglehold on the pole vault Monday, failing to clear any height at the world championships.
In stark contrast, Kenenisa Bekele and the Jamaican sprinters were as predictable as ever.
Bekele extended his domination over the 10,000 metres with a fourth straight world title and Shelly-Ann Fraser added one to her Olympic gold in the 100.
Isinbayeva had won all major titles since the 2004 Athens Games and saw a difficult year hit an unexpected low when the bar fell down on her at 4.80 metres. As the Russian held her head in despair, Anna Rogowska of Poland, who beat her at a meet in London last month, celebrated unexpected gold. She had cleared 4.75 metres.
“I have no proper explanation,” the Russian said. “Everything was perfect. I was confident. … I did not expect it.”
Unlike Isinbayeva, Bekele didn’t use 10 fingers to hide his face. He was holding up just one to show he remains the undisputed No. 1 when entering the final straight, having used his famed final kick to distance Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea by about 20 metres. As if he had been out on a jog, the Ethiopian immediately went on a victory lap with his teammates.
Equaling the four world titles of Haile Gebrselassie, Bekele is challenging him ever more as Africa’s greatest ever distance runner. He will decide later whether to go for a long-distance double.
In the men’s 1,500 semifinals, Nathan Brannen of Cambridge, Ont., failed to qualify for the final after finishing ninth in three minutes 38.97 seconds. The top five from each of the two heats moved on.
Over the shortest distances, Jamaica emerged ever stronger as the greatest nation.
Fraser blasted out of the blocks and led throughout the race to give Jamaica its second sprint gold in as many days. Usain Bolt won the men’s 100 in a world record time of 9.58 seconds on Sunday.
“It is a motivation because Usain Bolt was really magnificent,” Fraser said. “We have to ride the occasion.”
Fraser finished in 10.73 seconds, and behind her, fast approaching teammate Kerron Stewart finished in 10.75, also crossing in a blur of Jamaican yellow. United States champion Carmelita Jeter was never in the race and finished third in 10.90, edging defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, a third Jamaican in the top four.
Adding another morose touch to the American team, sprinter Tyson Gay said he would not compete in a rematch with 100-metre champion Usain Bolt in the 200 later this week because of a nagging groin injury.
“Rather than risk further injury, I’ve decided that I will not compete in tomorrow’s first round of the 200,” Gay said in a statement. “This decision will give me the best chance to be ready for the (4×100) relay. I want to help our relay as best I can.”
Gay’s withdrawal left the United States under more pressure in the battle for sprint domination with the Jamaicans, a race they now trail 2-0.
If Isinbayeva’s collapse was a surprise when she held her head in her hands on the mat, with the bar alongside her, so was the defeat of another Russian, Gulnara Galkina, in the steeplechase.
The Olympic champion fell back over the final lap, allowing Marta Dominguez of Spain to win gold.
Dominguez, the silver medallist at the 2001 and 2003 worlds, raced past Yuliya Zarudneva of Russia in the last 100 metres and waved her orange head band in celebration. Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya was third and Galkina finished fourth.
Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia won the gold in the hammer throw, beating former Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland. Aleksey Zagornyi of Russia took bronze.
Kozmus took the lead on his second attempt but put more shine on his victory with a winning throw of 80.84 metres on his last attempt — with gold already assured.
Ziolkowski, showing his best form since taking gold at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2001 worlds in Edmonton, threw 79.30.