Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis again took centre stage at the World Athletics Championships as he defended his pole vault world title in Budapest with a clearance of 6.10m on Saturday.
Despite many in the stadium saying that they had witnessed the best pole vault contest, the Swedish superstar was flawless up to and including his winning height, and was 10cm and two heights above anyone else in the competition before having three unsuccessful attempts at a world record 6.23m.
The rest of the events on the penultimate night of this year's championships came to a standstill as the spotlight fell on him, and a hush descending on the National Athletics Centre in the Hungarian capital when he moved onto the pole vault runway ahead of his three attempts to go into new territory for his event, and the audience were rewarded with second and third attempts that were respectively close.
No one who saw those attempts would dispute that another entry in the annals of athletics history is certainly possible for Duplantis in the near future.
Credit as well to France’s Thibaut Collet, the next European in the results, who jumped personal bests of 5.85m and then 5.90m to finish fifth.
The Netherlands’ 1500m bronze medallist Sifan Hassan battled with her regular Kenyan rival Faith Kipyegon but try as she might over a brutally fast final lap of the 5000m the former European Athlete of the Year couldn’t edge past the world record-holder and took the silver medal – Hassan's sixth of all descriptions at the World Athletics Championships – in 14:54.11, with Kipyegon just 23-hundredths in front of her.
"These championships have taught me a lot. It has given me more confidence because I moved to the marathon this year and for two years I've hardly done any speed work at all. How I was able to sprint at the end I don't know. I really felt amazing on the last lap and it was only in the last 20 metres I couldn't hold on. Faith was stronger than me today.," said Hassan.
Tokyo Olympic Games 4x100m champions Italy couldn’t stay with a rampant USA quartet but Robeto Rigali, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Lorenzo Patta and Filippo Tortu once again showed off the slick baton passing they had demonstrated in Friday’s heats and came away with the silver medals in a European-leading 37.62, 24-hundredths behind the winners.
Great Britain got two bronze medals on the night, with the quartet of Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Daryll Neita coming home third in the 4x100m in a European-leading 41.97.
The podium place fulfilled many pundits predictions of Great Britain, which has now won medals in this event in four of the last six editions of the World Athletics Championships, being the leading European nation in the 4x100m behind the sprint powerhouses of the USA and Jamaica, who took gold and silver in 41.03 and 41.21 respectively.
By contrast, 21-year-old Ben Pattison brought Britain a very unexpected 800m bronze medal in 1:44.83, the country's first over two laps of the track since Peter Elliott won silver in 1987 despite its famed middle-distance tradition.
The Briton was fifth just before coming into the home straight, but a fortuitous gap opened on the inside and Pattison had the turn of speed and presence of mind to secure a place on the podium.
“This medal means the word to me. I didn't have a good winter because of injury so I am lucky these championships was late [in the season]. Before the race my coach told me I cold race to win or race for a medal. I said I wanted to win. I don't care if I come fourth or eighth, no one remembers that, top three is what it is all about ” reflected Pattison.
He added: “One of the last people I saw before I got on the bus [to the stadium] today was [1500m winner] Josh Kerr. Before I could even say well done to him, he said ‘Well done’ to me.”
Spain’s European indoor champion Adrian Ben might have actually been the fastest finisher of all the finalists but lying back in eighth place before he started his charge which saw him come home fourth in 1:44.91, he left himself too much to do too late in the race.
Dongmo, Tilga and Salpeter just miss out on the medals
Portugal’s 2023 world indoor champion Auriel Dongmo once again just missed out on a medal on a global outdoor stage – after fourth at the Tokyo Olympic Games and then fifth at last year’s World Athletics Championships – when she finished fourth again, reaching 19.69m.
The Netherlands’ reigning European champion Jessica Schilder was just short of last year’s form that also took her to a 2022 world championships bronze medal and finished eighth in Budapest with 19.26.
Estonia’ Karel Tilga had a strong second day in the decathlon to finish as the leading European in fourth place with a personal best tally of 8681 points adding more than 200 points to his previous best after he finished with a 1500m personal best of 4:20.73.
Overnight decathlon leader and German record holder Leo Neugebauer slipped to fifth place with 8645 despite a personal best of 57.95m in the javelin.
Earlier in the day, Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter finished fourth in the marathon, just missing out on adding to her bronze medal from last year’s world championships.
Salpeter crossed the line in 2:25:38, 1:15 behind the winner. She was part of the leading group, which had been reduced to six women, until Ethiopia’s eventual gold medallist Amane Beriso surged in the 35th kilometre and broke up the pack.
World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 full results and timetable can be found here.
Phil Minshull for European Athletics