Sport

World athletics review 2013: Bolt the king of 2013

WORLD ATHLETICS REVIEW 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013    

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PARIS, FRance (AFP) — What would a year of track and field be without mention of the indomitable Usain Bolt at its fore, dragging the doping-mired sport out of the doldrums?

The 2013 season was no different, the towering Jamaican again dominating the sprints and underlining his formidable track prowess by claiming double individual gold in the 100 and 200m at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, respectively, his second and third titles in the events.

It means that apart from his false-start blip in the Daegu ‘Worlds’ 100m, Bolt has won every global sprint title on offer since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an astonishing feat he aims to carry through until the 2016 Games in Rio.

The six-time Olympic gold medallist's world medal haul now stands at eight gold, bringing him level with American women's 200m specialist Allyson Felix, and retired US track stars Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.

Bolt's Moscow performances were the perfect tonic for track and field after prechampionship positive doping tests for, among many others, top sprinters Tyson Gay of the United States, and Jamaican duo Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell Brown.

Turkey also banned 36 athletes for doping offences, including women's Olympic 1,500 metres champion Asli Cakir Alptekin.

International track and field was given a further boost in Moscow by the confirmation of Mo Farah as one of the best distance runners in the world.

Farah emulated Ethiopian long-distance king Kenenisa Bekele by adding double world 5,000-10,000m gold to similar exploits at the 2012 London Olympics.

Like Bolt, the Somali-born Briton dominated both races, controlling the pace with aplomb and each time producing his now-trademark kick to burn off any opponents in the home strait.

But he will likely leave his fans disappointed next year as he has opted to compete in the lucrative London Marathon rather than the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Russian athletes topped the medals table for the first time since 2001 with seven gold, one more than the United States, boosted by a "super Saturday" where the team enjoyed stunning victories in the women's high jump and 4x400-metres relay.

One stand-out performance at Moscow's iconic Luzhniki Stadium featured Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva.

The 31-year-old, who will now take an 18-month break to start a family before contemplating a return at the 2016 Rio Olympics, brought the house down when she won her third world title, her first global championship victory since her triumph at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The victory made up in part for her comments seemingly backing a controversial new law in Russia that outlaws dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.

Pro-gay rights activists argue that the law could be used for a broad crackdown against homosexuals, and such was the backlash to Isinbayeva's comments that the Russian was forced into issuing a statement saying she had been misunderstood.

World athletics governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) awarded their men and women's athletes of the year to Bolt and his Jamaican teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who also claimed double sprint gold.

Notably, there was for the first time an African presence on the podium in both the women's 100 and 200m, US-based Ivorian Murielle Ahoure claiming two silvers, with Nigerian Blessing Okagbare also taking a 200m bronze.

The shadow of doping remains, however, with 2014 likely to see further moves from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to regulate testing, particularly from national bodies.

WADA audited the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) after seven high-profile Jamaican athletes tested positive in 2013, WADA president John Fahey accusing the body of "dropping the ball".

Kenya also came under WADA's spotlight amid accusations of years of inaction from the east African running powerhouse.

The most impressive world record of the year went to a Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang shaving 15 seconds off the marathon as he stormed home in Berlin in 2hr 3.23min.

It was another story at the Boston Marathon in April, two explosions killing at least three and wounding 260, with a police officer later killed by the bombing suspects.

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