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2012 Chronicle of the Olympic Games in Athletics

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Majewski and Dibaba successfully defend their Olympic titles, while Ennis starts Heptathlon in style – London 2012 Day One Report

You could have been forgiven for thinking you were watching a re-run of the Beijing Olympics, but the reality was that the London 2012 Games saw the exact same day-one champions as in 2008.

Since winning the Olympic title four years ago, Tomasz Majewski had won a handful of championship medals, but none of them gold. Although one of the main contenders, he wasn't seen as a favourite to win – just like four years prior.
Indeed, it was Storl who took the early lead with throws of 21.84m and 21.86m while Majewski managed 21.72m before snatching the lead by one centimetre with 21.87m in round three.

Tomasz Majewski of Poland celebrates victory in the Men's Shot Put Final on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2012 (Getty Images)

Tomasz Majewski of Poland celebrates victory in the Men's Shot Put Final on

Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2012

Storl was unable to respond with his final three attempts, while Majewski saved his best for last and extended his lead to 21.89m – the third-best throw of his life.

World leader Reese Hoffa was consistent with a best mark of 21.23m, but in a high-quality final it was only good enough for bronze. Christian Cantwell threw 21.19m on his final attempt but fell four centimetres short of a medal, while Dylan Armstrong took fifth (20.93m).

As the Shot competition was nearing its climax, the women's 10,000m was just getting going. Vivian Cheruiyot had not lost a track race for two years, but Tirunesh Dibaba was back in form and out to defend her title.

The medal favourites held back during the early stages, allowing Japanese trio Kayoko Fukushi, Hitomi Niiya and Mika Yoshikawa to take the leading duties. Kenya's Sally Kipyego led at half way in 15:32.06, after which the Kenyans and Ethiopians moved to the fore.

2003 World silver medallist Worknesh Kidane then took up the running and pushed the pace on with a series of three-minute kilometres. But she began to drop back over the final couple of laps as Dibaba and Cheruiyot moved up.

Dibaba hit the front with 500m to go and began her long drive for home. She quickly opened up a gap and never looked back, leaving Cheruiyot and Kipyego in her wake.

With a final kilometre of 2:45 and a second half of 14:48, Dibaba won gold in 30:20.75, finishing almost six seconds clear. Kipyego overtook Cheruiyot on the final lap to grab the silver in 30:26.37 with Cheruiyot taking bronze in 30:30.44. Nine women broke 31 minutes, as 10 of the top 14 set personal bests.

National Hurdles record gives Ennis overnight lead in Heptathlon

The cheer for Jessica Ennis was deafening as she lined up for her heat of the Heptathlon sprint hurdles on the first morning session of the Olympic Games. It was another reminder – as if any was needed – that the hopes of a nation rested on the British combined eventer.

Although she understandably looked nervous, she did not let the pressure get to her and instead used it to spur her on to a great run. A fantastic run, in fact, as she won her heat with a British record of 12.54 – the fastest time ever within a Heptathlon, and equal to Dawn Harper's winning time in the individual event at the 2008 Olympics!

Ennis was not the only in-form athlete though, as five women in that heat broke 13 seconds – unprecedented depth for a Heptathlon 100m Hurdles heat. Canada's Jessica Zelinka clocked a PB of 12.65, with Hyleas Fountain running a lifetime best of 12.70.

But while the High Jump used to be one of Ennis's best disciplines, today the event was all about Austra Skujyte – the 2004 Olympic silver medallist from Lithuania who is back in the combined events after a brief foray into Shot Put specialising.

Ennis, Fountain, Skujyte and Katarina Johnson-Thompson were among the athletes who went clear at 1.86m. But the next height, 1.89m, proved to be decisive as Fountain and Ennis failed to clear it.

Johnson-Thompson, the teenage heptathlete who won the World Junior Long Jump title, sailed over 1.89m to set a lifetime best, so too did Skujyte and Yana Maksimava. But Skujyte was the only athlete who could go higher and she set a PB of 1.92m to bag valuable points.

The Lithuanian continued to impress in the following event, the shot, as she produced a throw of 17.31m – the best ever throw within a Heptathlon competition. Ennis was half a metre down on her best with 14.28m, allowing Skujyte to take the overall lead after three events.

Dobrynska had to make do with a 'safe' 15.05m after two fouls, while Chernova threw a season's best of 14.17m. Lilli Schwarzkopf and Kristina Savitskaya both threw 14.77m, moving them into third and fourth respectively overall.

But Skujyte's lead was not to last as she could only manage 25.43 in the 200m, leaving the door open for Ennis to take pole position. She grabbed the opportunity with both hands and set a lifetime best of 22.83 to cross the line level with Dafne Schippers. It brought Ennis's points tally to 4158, 45 points up on her day-one score from Gotzis this year where she went on to score 6906.

Skujyte currently has 3974 points in second, while just four points separate the four athletes from third to sixth. Chernova is ninth with 3849 but has three good events tomorrow, while Dobrynska – currently 10th with 3835 – may struggle to make an impact.

Few surprises in heats of track events

The women's 100m heats were graced by a string of sub-11-second performances, proving this track is a fast one. First up was Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who clocked 10.96, but Carmelita Jeter stunned in the second head with a time of 10.83 – the fastest ever 100m heat at any major championships.

Other sub-11 heat winners included Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.94) and Blessing Okagbare (10.93), while Allyson Felix (11.01) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (11.00) also made it safely through in what proved to be an extremely high-quality first round.

In the heats of the 400m Hurdles, world leader Javier Culson made his intentions known as he sets out to win his first major title after taking silver at the past two World Championships. The Puerto Rican looked incredibly smooth in posting the fastest time of the day with 48.33, easing up at the end. Kerron Clement ran a season's best of 48.48 in second.

But the biggest cheer came for World Champion Dai Greene, who ran a very controlled race from lane one to win his heat in 48.98.

2008 Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and US champion Michael Tinsley also won their respective heats, as did 2004 Olympic Champion Felix Sanchez. But last year's world leader LJ van Zyl was not so lucky and failed to progress, along with 48.41 runner Takayuki Kishimoto, who looked to be carrying an injury and finished last in his heat.

There were few surprises in the first round of the women's 400m – not least the flash of rain that soaked the athletes in the third and fourth heats. First up was defending champion Christine Ohuruogu, who overtook Francena McCorory with ease in the home straight but took her foot off the pedal before the finish line allowing the American to take the win, 50.78 to 50.80.

World champion Amantle Montsho was the fastest overall with her smooth-looking 50.40, but both Sanya Richards-Ross (51.78) and Antonina Krivoshapka (50.75) clearly had much more in the bag based on their comfortable heat victories.

Kenya on course to attempt clean sweeps in two events

All three Kenyan athletes progressed to the final of the men's 3000m Steeplechase as they attempt to take a clean sweep of the medals. But Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and US record-holder Evan Jager also looked good when finishing ahead of Abel Mutai in the first heat.

Defending champion Brimin Kipruto won the second heat, while World champion Ezekiel Kemboi coasted the third and final heat, allowing Roba Gari of Ethiopia to come through at the end for the win.

The trio of Kenyans also made it through to the 1500m semi-finals, although Nixon Chepseba only made it through on appeal after being tripped in his heat.

His compatriots Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat made it safely through, but the most impressive runs came from Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi, winner of the first heat in 3:35.05, and New Zealand's Nick Willis who dictated the third tactical heat to win in 3:40.92.

Veterans Aldama, Lebedeva and Murofushi impress in qualifying

Between World champion Koji Murofushi and Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus, they had competed a total of just three times this year in the Hammer. But any question marks over their form were soon answered as they were the first two to automatically book their place in the final.

World silver medallist Krisztian Pars was the top performer in the second group, producing the best throw of the day with 79.37m. Amazingly, 10 of the 12 qualifiers came from the first group.

World silver medallist Olga Rypakova overcame a scare in the Triple Jump qualifying to pull out a 14.79m leap on her final attempt, leading the qualifiers for the final. World leader Caterine Ibarguen (14.42m), World Indoor Champion Yamile Aldama (14.45m) and World Champion Olga Saladukha (14.35m) also made it safely through, while Jamaica's Kimberly Williams set a PB of 14.52m.

39-year-old Aldama was not the only veteran to make it through, as former World champions Tatyana Lebedeva and Trecia Smith qualified comfortably.

Less than 20 centimetres separated the qualifiers in the men's Long Jump. In a close but unspectacular qualifying round, only two men – Mauro da Silva and Marquise Goodwind – gained the automatic mark, both jumping 8.11m. British duo Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson also made it through, while Australia's Mitchell Watt and Germany's Sebastian Bayer just about made the top 12.

But joint World leader Sergey Morgunov and defending Olympic champion Irving Saladino were not to lucky. Morgunov managed just 7.87m, while Saladino recorded three fouls.

There were fewer surprises in the women's discus qualifying as all the big medal contenders made it through, led by Yarelys Barrios (65.94m), Nadine Muller (65.89m), Sandra Perkovic (65.74m) and Darya Pishchalnikova (65.02m).

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
Report London, UK

Ennis, Farah and Rutherford take gold for Britain on 'Super Saturday' - London 2012 Day Two Report

The Sydney Olympics in 2000 is remembered for 'Magic Monday' – the day in which Cathy Freeman won 400m gold for the host nation Australia. In a similar vein, 'Super Saturday' of the London 2012 Games will long live in the memory as the day in which Britain won three gold medals – courtesy of Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah.

Ennis – also known as 'the face of the Games' – had held the overnight lead in the Heptathlon with her best ever day-one score. She began the second day with a 6.48m leap in the Long Jump to finish just six centimetres behind Tatyana Chernova, keeping her big rival at bay.

Mo Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in Men's 10,000m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012  (Getty Images)

Mo Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in Men's 10,000m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012

But defending champion Nataliya Dobrynska was not so fortunate and she had two fouls followed by an aborted attempt, ending her Olympic campaign.

The star of the javelin was Sofia Ifadidou of Greece, who threw 56.96m – the best ever mark within a heptathlon. She was pushed by Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida of France, who threw 55.87m in a group that saw seven women break 51 metres – incredible depth for a heptathlon.

On her final attempt, Ennis produced a PB of 47.49m to finish ahead of Chernova (46.29m), giving her an unassailable lead going into the final event.

Ennis duly delivered in the 800m, sprinting away from her rivals to fittingly cross the line in pole position with a time of 2:08.65. It brought her points tally to 6955, breaking her own UK record she set earlier in the year and going to fifth on the world all-time list.

Germany's Lilli Schwarzkopf was initially disqualified from the 800m having finished in the silver medal position, but she was later reinstated. Chernova, meanwhile, had to settle for the bronze medal with 6628.

With 13 women over 6300 points, it was the greatest depth Heptathlon competition of all time.

Just minutes after Ennis crossed the finish line, the men's Long Jump was reaching its climax. The marks were far from record-breaking, but the competition was extremely competitive. Rutherford took an early lead with 8.21m in round two, but that lead came under attack in the fourth round as Will Claye jumped 8.12m, Michel Torneus 8.11m and Sebastian Bayer 8.10m.

But Rutherford hit back with a leap of 8.31m to extend his lead. The only athlete who could respond was Australia's Mitchell Watt, jumping 8.13m in the fifth round and 8.16m in the sixth. It was not enough to catch the leader, though, and Rutherford was crowned the champion.

The men's 10,000m got underway as the Long Jump was coming to a close. In his usual style, Zersenay Tadese did the early pace-making duties, but it was not to last. With a few kilometres to go, world leader Wilson Kiprop stepped off the track, but the main protagonists were all still in contention.

Bidan Karoki led for a few laps, followed by Kenyan team-mate Moses Masai. The whole time, Farah was keeping close contact, but so too was training partner Galen Rupp, defending champion Kenenisa Bekele and his brother Tariku Bekele.

With just 1000m of running left, Farah hit the front and wound up the pace – all too aware of the costly tactical mistakes that cost him the gold at last year's World Championships. He bided his time before kicking hard on the last lap, but his pursuers were still not dropping back.

Farah moved into top gear into the home straight, where he was joined by Rupp who chased him all the way home. Farah crossed the line in 27:30.42 with Rupp less than half a second behind. For the third time this year, Tariku Bekele beat his brother to take the bronze ahead of Kenenisa Bekele, 27:31.43 to 27:42.44.

Fraser-Pryce defends title in quality 100m

When Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took 100m gold in Beijing four years ago, she was still something of a newcomer. Four years on, the Jamaican is no longer the underdog and came to London as the world leader.

She lived up to expectations too and retained her Olympic 100m title, although she fought hard in the closing stages to hold her form against the might of World Champion Carmelita Jeter. Just three hundredths separated the pair in the end, but Fraser-Pryce came out on top in 10.75.

Veronica Campbell-Brown took bronze in 10.81 – the fastest ever time by a third-place finisher at any championships. American duo Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix set respective PBs of 10.85 and 10.89 as five women dipped under 10.9, reminiscent of the Olympic final from 20 years prior. With eighth-placer Blessing Okagbare running 11.01, it was the greatest-depth women's 100m race in history.

The women's Discus Throw was also of a great standard too, having witnessed a few down years recently. Two-time European champion Sandra Perkovic added to her ever-growing medal tally by taking gold with a national record of 69.11m.

World leader Darya Pishchalnikova battled her way up the ranks throughout the competition. She was just fifth at half-way, then moved up to third with 66.42m before going into second with 67.56m in round five.

World champion Li Yanfeng could not respond and took bronze with 67.22m – the first time since 1988 that three women had broken 67 metres at the Olympics.

History rewritten in men's 20km Race Walk

Before today, China had never won a medal of any colour in a men's race walking event at the Olympics, despite being one of the super powers of the event. Guatemala, meanwhile, had never won an Olympic medal in any sport. But today both of those records were broken in the men's 20km Race Walk.

A lead group of 12 athletes emerged in the second half, led by Chinese duo Wang Zhen and Chen Ding. Defending champion Valeriy Borchin was also with the lead pack and with two 2km laps to go he was one of six walkers still in contention.

But then came the drama as world bronze medallist Luis Fernando Lopez was disqualified, closely followed by world record-holder and world silver medallist Vladimir Kanaykin. Then in the final kilometre Borchin crashed to the ground in dramatic fashion, completely and utterly exhausted. He had to be stretchered off the course and taken away by an ambulance.

The medallists then became clear as Chen had made a big break and was way out in front. Barrondo gradually opened up a gap on Wang as he chased down Chen, but the 19-year-old's lead was too big.

Chen set an Olympic record of 1:18:46 to become the youngest ever Olympic medallist in a men's race walking event. Barrondo, meanwhile, took silver for Guatemala in 1:18:57, also dipping inside the previous Olympic record, while Wang held on for bronze (1:19:25).

Men's 100m showdown gets underway

The men's 100m at this Olympics could be one of the greatest ever as the four fastest men of all-time are set to clash in tomorrow's final, and today all the big contenders safely made it through their heats.

The first three heats were won by Americans, while the next three were won by Jamaicans. Tyson Gay was first up, winning in 10.08, followed by Justin Gatlin in the second heat (9.97) and Ryan Bailey in the third heat, running a stunning 9.88 – the fastest ever time in an Olympic semi-final.

And then it was the turn of Usain Bolt, who revealed little about his form as he won his heat in a moderate 10.09. Asafa Powell (10.04) and Yohan Blake (10.00) took the fifth and sixth heats, while Dwain Chambers won the seventh one in a season's best of 10.02.

Scare for Greene in 400m hurdles semis

Perhaps one of the most shocking races of the evening session was the first semi-final of the men's 400m hurdles. Felix Sanchez rolled back the years to run a world-leading 47.76 – his fastest time since winning the 2004 Olympic title in Athens. In a high-quality race that saw Jehue Gordon set a national record (47.96) and Kerron Clement clock a season's best (48.12), World champion Dai Greene appeared to be out of it as he finished fourth in 48.19. But it proved to be the fastest of all the semis and Greene's time was good enough to make it through to the final. Javier Culson won the second semi from Angelo Taylor, 47.93 to 47.95, while Michael Tinsley won the third (48.18).

The finalists were also decided in the women's 400m. Defending champion Christine Ohuruogu closed well on 2009 World champion Sanya Richards-Ross in the first semi, 50.07 to 50.22, as Amantle Montsho and Francena McCorory were the top two in the second semi. The third and final semi was the fastest with three women – Antonina Krivoshapka, DeeDee Trotter and Novlene Williams-Mills – going sub-50.

Olympics over for Murer and Merritt

World champion Fabiana Murer was one of a handful of shock exits from the women's Pole Vault competition. She failed to clear the 4.55m that was required to reach the final. So too did three-time Olympic finalist Monika Pyrek, Greek record-holder Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou and former World record-holder Svetlana Feofanova.

But medal favourites Yelena Isinbayeva, Silke Spiegelburg and Jenn Suhr all safely progressed and will compete in Monday's final.

The injury that forced LaShawn Merritt to DNF at the Monaco Samsung Diamond League came back to haunt him and the defending Olympic champion only completed 100m of the track before pulling up.

He was the only shock exit though, as Jonathan Borlee stole the show with his 44.43 national record to win his heat. Brother Kevin Borlee, World champion Kirani James and World Junior champion Luguelin Santos were among the other heat winners, while double amputee Oscar Pistorius made history as the first track and field athlete to compete in both the Paralympics and the Olympic Games.

Ethiopia was out in force in the women's 3000m Steeplechase as all three of their athletes – Etenesh Diro, Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew – impressed in qualifying. But World champion Yuliya Zaripova, World silver medallist Habiba Ghribi and African record-holder Milcah Chemos all looked good too. Defending Champion Gulnara Galkina scraped through as the 12th fastest overall.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
Report London, UK

Bolt's 100m defence in an Olympic record highlights another exciting night - London 2012 Day Three Report

In the Athletics world, it doesn't get much bigger than the men's Olympic 100m final. And the event in London was bigger and better than ever.

The four fastest men in history all made it through to the final after a stunning series of semi-final races. Justin Gatlin won the first in 9.82 as former World record holder Asafa Powell finished just third and outside an automatic qualifying spot. Next up was Usain Bolt, who looked back to his best showboating form as he breezed through the finish in 9.87 seconds. Training partner Yohan Blake took the third semi-final win in 9.85. Seven of the eight qualifiers broke 10 seconds just to book their place in the final.

Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States and Justin Gatlin of the United States to win the Men's 100m Semifinal on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images)

Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States and Justin Gatlin of the United States to win the Men's 100m Semifinal on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012

The scene was set for potentially the greatest 100m race of all-time. It did not disappoint.
Bolt did not get off to the best of starts, but it didn't take him long to get into his stride. Once he did, there was no beating him as he pulled away to win in 9.63, breaking his own Olympic record which when set in Beijing was a World record.

Blake took silver in 9.75, equalling his PB, as Gatlin took the bronze with a PB of 9.79, one hundredth ahead of US team-mate Tyson Gay.

Ryan Bailey clocked 9.88 in fifth from Churandy Martina (9.94) and Richard Thompson (9.98). Powell, meanwhile, pulled up in the closing stages.

With three men under 9.80 and seven under 10 seconds, it was all-round the fastest 100m race in history. More importantly for Bolt, though, he was back on top of the world as the undisputed sprint king. Or at least until the 200m final in a few days' time.

Gelana breaks Olympic marathon record on rainy day

A torrential downpour drenched the athletes as they lined up for the women's Marathon on The Mall in the centre of London this morning. It was anticipated to be a battle between Liliya Shobukhova and Mary Keitany – the second and third-fastest women of all time – but in an exciting race, neither came away with a medal.

Russian record-holder Shobukhova pulled up just after half way, clutching at her hamstring, although by this point she was already well behind the leaders.

After a first half of 73:13, it was in the last 13 Miles that the race came to life. The top three athletes from both Kenya (Keitany, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo) and Ethiopia (Tiki Gelana, Mare Dibaba and Aselefech Mergia) made a break. Mergia was the first to drop off the pack, while Tatyana Arkhipova, Shalane Flanagan and Jessica Augusto set out in pursuit of the leaders.

With an impressive surge, Arkhipova – 2007 World silver medallist in the 3000m Steeplechase – cruised past a fading Dibaba and joined the leaders. World champion Edna Kiplagat was the next to fall behind, leaving just four athletes out in front.

With just over two kilometres of running left, Keitany began to struggle. But Ethiopian record-holder Gelana, meanwhile, began a long push for home and moved away from Jeptoo and Arkhipova. She maintained her lead to the end, winning in an Olympic record of 2:23:07.

Jeptoo held on for silver with 2:23:12 as Arkhipova smashed her PB with 2:23:29 to take bronze. Keitany was almost 30 seconds behind in fourth. With four women under 2:24 and 10 under 2:26, it was the highest-quality women's marathon ever at the Olympics.

Gold at last for Richards-Ross and Pars

Sanya Richards-Ross, the most prolific sub-50 runner in history, would be the first to admit that she had unfinished business in the 400m after several disappointments over the years. But tonight she made up for her dramatic loss in Beijing four years ago by taking gold.

Sticking to her tried and tested tactic – a fast start, easy middle section and strong finish – Richards-Ross saved enough for the home straight to hold off a fast-finishing Christine Ohuruogu and take gold in 49.55. The defending champion, who was born and raised in the Stratford area of London where the Games are being held, once again exceeded expectations by producing a trademark strong finish.

Ohuruogu was sixth with 100m to go, but came through to take the silver medal with a season's best of 49.70, continuing her trend of running her best times at major championships. DeeDee Trotter had a remarkable return to form as she ran her fastest time for five years to take the bronze in 49.72.

World champion Amantle Montsho was run out of the medals in fourth, 49.75, as Novlene Williams-Mills was fifth in 50.11. World leader Antonina Krivoshapka went off hard and ultimately paid the price, finishing sixth in 50.17.

Before this year, Krisztian Pars had been steadily improving his results at major championships. Seventh at the 2005 Worlds, sixth at the 2006 Europeans, fifth at the 2007 Worlds, fourth at the 2008 Olympics, bronze at the 2010 Europeans and silver at the World Championships last year.

But 2012 is a golden year for the Hungarian hammer thrower, and he arrived in London as the newly-crowned European champion. He led from the outset in tonight's final, throwing 79.14m in the first round and improving to 80.59m in the third.

Defending champion Primoz Kozmus had barely competed all year, but produced his best marks of the season in London with 79.36m to take the silver. World champion Koji Murofushi – who, like Kozmus, had competed sparingly in 2012 – also saved his best for the Olympics and took the bronze medal with 78.71m, eight years after winning gold in Athens.

Kemboi and Rypakova make amends after Beijing disappointments

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is the only blemish on Ezekiel Kemboi's CV. In every other major championships he has contested, he has won either gold or silver, but in Beijing he was a distant seventh.

Today though, the champion from eight years ago regained his Olympic crown and did so in impressive fashion. After two steady opening kilometres of 2:52 and 2:51, the tension ramped up over the final few laps. Uganda's Benjamin Kiplagat took a tumble, followed one lap later by defending champion Brimin Kipruto.

But Kemboi was still clear of danger, so too was team-mate Abel Mutai and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. At the bell Kemboi shot into the lead and opened up a gap on the rest of the pack. Despite having to clear several barriers, he covered the final lap in 57 seconds as he drifted out into the outside lanes to take gold in 8:18.56.

Mekhissi-Benabbad repeated his position from Beijing by taking the silver, while Mutai grabbed the bronze, a quarter of a second ahead of Ethiopia's Roba Gari. Kemboi's victory extended Kenya's dominance of this event at the Olympics with their eighth straight title.

At the last Olympic Games Olga Rypakova smashed her PB by 42 centimetres to jump 15.11m, only to miss out on a medal by one place. Tonight in London, she jumped 13 centimetres less than in Beijing, but it was easily enough to win gold.

She had overcome two fouls in qualifying to make it into the final on her last attempt. But tonight she made no mistakes and took an early lead with 14.54m. Ukraine's Hanna Knyazyeva bettered it with 14.56m before Caterine Ibarguen jumped into the lead with 14.67m in round three, but Rypakova responded immediately with 14.98m. That remained the best mark of the competition, although she backed it up with 14.89m in round five.

World champion Olga Saladukha saved her best jump for the last round, sailing out to 14.79m. But Ibarguen followed with 14.80m to snatch back the silver, pushing the Ukrainian into the bronze medal position.

It was just the second ever athletics gold medal for Kazakhstan at the Olympics, following Olga Shishigina's 100m hurdles victory in Sydney 2000.

Finalists decided in 400m, 1500m and High Jump

For the first time ever at the Olympics – excluding the boycotted Games of 1980 – no American athletes qualified for the men's 400m final. Defending champion LaShawn Merritt exited in yesterday's heats, but he was followed in today's semi-finals by team-mates Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum, who finished fourth and third in their respective races to miss out on making the final.

Trinidad & Tobago's Lalonde Gordon was the surprise package of the round as he smashed his PB by almost half a second to win the first semi in 44.58. World champion Kirani James took the second (44.59) as fellow teenager Luguelin Santos won the third (44.78).

The men's 1500m looked as though Kenya would dominate, but instead two athletes from North African nations enjoyed runaway victories in the semi-finals.

Defending champion Asbel Kiprop had tried to dictate the pace in the first semi-final. But he was found wanting on the final lap as Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi effortlessly burst into the lead to win in 3:42.24. Kiprop and Mekonnen Gebremedhin also qualified.

It was a similar story in the second semi, although the pace was notably quicker. Nixon Chepseba led from the outset, but he was passed by Abdelaati Iguider in the closing stages to win in 3:33.99. Silas Kiplagat was a good few metres behind in second as Nick Willis and Chepseba also progressed.

2007 World champion Donald Thomas, 2010 European Champion Aleksandr Shustov and 2011 World bronze medallist Trevor Barry all missed out on making the High Jump final in today's qualifying round.

But medal favourites Ivan Ukhov, Jesse Williams and Robbie Grabarz all safely made it through, alongside defending champion Andrey Silnov.

There were fewer surprises in the women's 400m Hurdles heats. Olympic champion Melaine Walker, World Champion LaShinda Demus and world leader Natalya Antyukh – the latter posting the fastest time of the round with 53.90 – all qualified to the next round with relative ease. So too did Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton, who lives within a mile of the Olympic Stadium.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
Report London, UK

Sanchez's shock 400m Hurdles gold the highlight on day of surprises - London 2012 Day Four report

London, UKYelena Isinbayeva lost her first Olympic Pole Vault final for twelve years, Valerie Adams was defeated in the Shot Put for the first time since 2005 in a major outdoor championships, Javier Culson's 2012 winning streak came to an end in the 400m Hurdles, and the US presence in the men's 400m was non-existent.

But as surprising as most of tonight's finals were, the most shocking was the return to form of Felix Sanchez in the 400m Hurdles. His Olympic victory eight years ago in Athens was his last major victory, marking the end of his dominance that had spanned several seasons.

Despite having not broken 48 seconds since then, he had always remained competitive at major championships. But few would have expected him to tear apart the form book and upset his younger rivals.

Jennifer Suhr in the pole vault at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images)

Jennifer Suhr in the pole vault at the London 2012 Olympic Games

His semi-final run yesterday of 47.76 provided a glimpse of what was to come, and he followed it up in today's final with a 47.63 victory – the exact same time he ran to win Olympic gold in 2004. At 34 – the oldest in tonight's final – he becomes the oldest ever medallist and champion in the event at the Olympic Games.

US Champion Michael Tinsley rose to the occasion on his major championships debut, setting a PB of 47.91 for silver as Culson was third (48.10), one place ahead of World champion Dai Greene (48.24). Defending champion Angelo Taylor – who, like Sanchez, has also won Olympic titles eight years apart – was fifth in 48.25.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 19-year-old Kirani James became the second-youngest winner of an Olympic 400m title, running away from the field in the closing stages to win by more than half a second in a final that was devoid of American sprinters.

His winning time of 43.94 was a huge personal best and makes him the first non-American to break 44 seconds. He was followed across the line by another 19-year-old, World Junior champion Luguelin Santos, who ran 44.46 to take silver – the second medal of the night for the Dominican Republic, following Sanchez's victory in the 400m Hurdles.

Trinidad & Tobago's Lalonde Gordon improved on the PB he set in the heats with 44.52 for bronze. But it was difficult not to feel sorry for Chris Brown of the Bahamas. After finishing fourth at the 2005 World Championships, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics, the 33-year-old once again missed out on a medal by one place.

Adams and Isinbayeva surrender Olympic titles

Shot putter Valerie Adams was another defending Olympic champion to be beaten tonight. Although Nadezhda Ostapchuk entered the competition as the world leader, most of her top throws were achieved at home in Belarus and Adams often had the upper hand at major championships.

But tonight Ostapchuk was unstoppable as four of her five valid marks would have easily been enough to take gold. She went out to 21.31m in round two and extended her lead in the next round with 21.36m – the best mark at the Olympics since 1988. Adams opened with 20.61m and improved to 20.70m in round three, but that remained her best mark of the competition.

Russia's Yevgeniya Kolodko pulled a PB out of the bag with her last throw to move from fifth to bronze with 20.48m. With four women over 20 metres, nine over 19 metres and a winning mark of 21.36m, this was the highest-quality Olympic final for 24 years.

Yelena Isinbayeva was the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the Pole Vault and tonight she was looking to extend her record with a third gold. But on an evening where cold and breezy conditions wreaked havoc with the vaulting runway, the Russian superstar had to settle for bronze.

More than half of the 12 finalists had exited the competition without clearing 4.55m. Five women were left as the bar moved to 4.70m – the height at which German duo Martina Strutz and Silke Spiegelburg bowed out.

It left just Jenn Suhr, Yarisley Silva and Isinbayeva to fight it out for the medals. Suhr, the American record-holder, recorded her first failure of the competition at 4.75m, but her second-time clearance meant she maintained her lead.

Silva equalled her own Cuban record with that height, while Isinbayeva failed twice at it before saving her final attempt for the next height, 4.80m.

None of the medallists cleared that final height, which meant the positions remained the same as Suhr went one better than the silver medal she won in Beijing four years ago.

While Russia missed out on gold in the Pole Vault, Yuliya Zaripova made up for it in the 3000m Steeplechase. The World champion lived up to her favourite tag with some textbook front-running to take gold with a personal best of 9:06.72.

The top two positions from Daegu last year were replicated as Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi once again took silver with a national record of 9:08.37. Ethiopian record-holder Sofia Assefa held off a late charge from African record-holder Milcah Chemos to take bronze in 9:09.84.

Favourites fall in 400m Hurdles semis

Since winning gold in Beijing four years ago, Melaine Walker has built up an incredible record at major championships, always producing her best form of the year and always with a sub-53 clocking. But tonight that came to an end as she finished a distant sixth in her semi-final.

Instead it was 2010 European Champion Nataliya Antyukh who stole the show, improving her own world-leading mark with a 53.33 win in the first semi-final with Zuzana Hejnova in second (53.62).

World champion Lashinda Demus looked very comfortable in taking the second semi in 54.08, while Nigeria's Ajoke Odumosu led from the outset to win the third semi in a national record of 54.40.

But Walker wasn't the only big contender to falter. Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton – who scored an impressive victory at the London Diamond League – finished third in her semi with 55.19 with European Champion Irina Davydova two places down.

After an initial disqualification of Denisa Rosolova from the third race, it looked as though Shakes-Drayton would progress to the final, but the Czech athlete was later reinstated.

The women's 200m also got underway with all the big contenders getting through to the semi-finals. Newly-crowned Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross was the fastest of the round with 22.48, while Allyson Felix ran a very easy 22.71. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter – the top two in the 100m – also won their heats.

But two-time Olympic Champion Veronica Campbell-Brown was just third in her heat. There was certainly more in the bag for the Jamaican, but her position may affect her lane draw in the semi-finals.

Foster-Hylton out, Borzakovskiy scrapes through

After a couple of injury-hit seasons, 2009 World champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton made a superb return to form earlier this season in the 100m Hurdles. The 37-year-old could have been a medal contender here in London, but in this morning's heats she clipped a barrier and missed out on making the next round.

But the Jamaican was the only surprise in the first round of the event, as all the other medal hopes made it through to the semi-finals. World champion Sally Pearson impressed with her 12.57, which is the fastest ever recorded in the first round at the Olympics, although not the fastest ever quarter-final (which this round effectively was).

Two-time European champion Nevin Yanit beat Olympic champion Dawn Harper in their heat, 12.70 to 12.75. Lolo Jones and Kellie Wells were among the fastest with respective times of 12.68 and 12.69 to win their heats.

The men's 800m heats also got underway, despite a few minor controversies. World record-holder David Rudisha guaranteed his place in the semi-finals with a very easy looking 1:45.90, equalling the time of World Junior Champion Nijel Amos from the first heat.

Abubaker Kaki, Mohamed Aman and Nick Symmonds were among the other heat winners, but Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi – who won his 1500m heat and semi-final in impressive fashion – pulled up in his heat after just 200m. He was disqualified from taking part in any other event at the Games for not giving a bona fide effort, but was later reinstated.

Poland's Marcin Lewandowski was just the sixth athlete to cross the line in his heat, but he was obstructed during the race by Mohammad Al-Azemi and was later allowed to progress to the semis.

Meanwhile, 2004 Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy finished just fifth in his heat, but scraped through to the next round as the slowest of the fastest losers.

In the women's 1500m heats, Genzebe Dibaba and Yekaterina Martynova – both sub-four runners this year – failed to make it to the semi-finals. Dibaba, the World Indoor champion, was taken off the track in a wheelchair, while Morocco's Btissam Lakhouad failed to finish.

But Ethiopian record-holder Abeba Aregawi looked good in winning her heat in 4:04.55, equalling the fastest ever heat time at the Olympics. Others to progress included Yekaterina Kostetskaya, Maryam Yusuf Jamal, European Champion Asli Cakir and World Champion Jenny Simpson.

There were fewer surprises in the qualifying of the men's Discus. Defending champion Gerd Kanter overcame two fouls to post the best mark of the day with 66.39m. Two-time World champion Robert Harting qualified with ease (66.22m) along with Virgilijus Alekna (63.88m) and Ehsan Hadadi (65.19m).

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  Report The odds

Three huge favourites win followed by a big surprise - London 2012 Day Five Report

on favourites in three of tonight's four finals lived up to expectations as Ivan Ukhov, Sally Pearson and Robert Harting all won gold. But the biggest surprise was saved for the final event of the night, the 1500m, where relative unknown Taoufik Makhloufi ran away with the title in outstanding fashion.

The high jumpers were the first up to compete in the Olympic Stadium tonight, and as was the case with yesterday's Pole Vault final, the cold breezy conditions saw six of the 14 finalists bow out as the bar got to 2.29m – including defending champion Andrey Silnov and World champion Jesse Williams.

 Sally Pearson of Australia hugs Kellie Wells of the United States after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012 (Getty Images)

Sally Pearson of Australia hugs Kellie Wells of the United States after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 7 August 2012

 The first-time clearances at that height proved vital, as only two men went on to clear 2.33m. It meant that the other three athletes who jumped 2.29m on their first leap – European champion Robbie Grabarz, Canada's Derek Drouin and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim – would share the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Ukhov found himself in a surprise battle with USA's Erik Kynard, who had cleared 2.33m on his first try. Ukhov then cleared 2.36m and 2.38m at the first time of asking, while Kynard was unable to do likewise at the higher heights, so he ultimately had to make do with silver.

After one attempt at 2.40m, Ukhov began his lap of honour, content to take gold with 2.38m – only one Olympic High Jump title (1996) has been won with a higher mark.

Pearson breaks another curse

After breaking the 'cover curse' in Daegu last year by becoming the first coverstar of the daily programmes not to fall victim to some sort of misfortune, Australia's Sally Pearson ended another curse tonight in the 100m Hurdles.

The pre-race favourites for the past five Olympic titles in this event had all failed to win gold. The last two pre-race favourites – Lolo Jones in 2008 and Perdita Felicien in 2004 – had also won World Indoor gold in the same year they crashed out of the Olympic final.

But Pearson, the 2012 World Indoor champion, knows better than to be swept up in hocus-pocus. Instead she let her feet do the talking and after coming within 0.02 of the Olympic record in the semi-finals, she went on to break the record in the final with 12.35.

It was closer than expected, though, as defending champion Dawn Harper was not going to surrender her title without a fight. After a PB of 12.46 in the semis, she went even faster in the final and crossed the line almost level with Pearson and was rewarded with another PB, 12.37.

Kellie Wells – the woman who ended Pearson's winning streak earlier this year – took the bronze medal with a PB of 12.48. Jones was fourth (12.58), given the same time as fifth-placer Nevin Yanit who set a Turkish record of 12.58.

Harting maintains his reign – but only just

For much of tonight's Discus final it looked as though Robert Harting's two-year winning streak would come to an end. The German had won the past two World titles and was looking to win his first Olympic gold, but World bronze medallist Ehsan Hadadi unleashed a 68.18m throw in round one to take a lead that lasted for four whole rounds.

It was only on Harting's penultimate attempt – after being bumped into third place by Gerd Kanter's 68.03m throw – that he was able to take the lead, sending the disc flying out to 68.27m.

Hadadi was the next in the circle and for a second it looked as though he had thrown the winning mark of the competition, but it was ruled a foul. With no changes in the final round, Harting was crowned the champion – prompting his trademark celebration of tearing his vest before going on a lap of honour that included clearing a full set of hurdles in the home straight.

Former two-time Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna, making a record fifth appearance in an Olympic Discus final at the age of 40, finished fourth, having been in a medal position for the first four rounds.

Makhloufi runs away with 1500m gold

Despite his 3:30.80 PB in Monaco earlier this year, few would have predicted before the Games began that Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi would become Olympic 1500m champion. But his performances in the heats and semi-finals made it clear that the 24-year-old would be a strong contender.

After opening laps of 58.30 and 59.30 – led by Kenya's Nixon Chepseba and Bahrain's Bilal Mansour Ali – the pace began to pick up on the third lap. Defending champion Asbel Kiprop appeared to be biding his time, hanging at the back of the field, but it soon became clear that he simply did not have anything more to give and he faded badly on the final lap to finish last.

Makhloufi kicked hard over the final 200m and, just as he had done in the previous two rounds, opened up a sudden and significant lead on the rest of the field, striding away to gold in 3:34.08.

In the frantic battle for the minor medals, USA's Leonel Manzano came through strong at the end to take a surprise silver with a season's best of 3:34.79. Abdelaati Iguider narrowly snatched the bronze in 3:35.13, just 0.04 ahead of World bronze medallist Matt Centrowitz – the second US athlete in the top four.

After hopes of winning one or more medals in this race, Kenyan athletes had a disappointing race as Silas Kiplagat was the top finisher in seventh. European champion Henrik Ingebrigtsen set a Norwegian record of 3:35.43 in fifth.

Rudisha and Felix guarantee their place in the finals

Looking just as good as they did in yesterday's heats, World leaders David Rudisha and Allyson Felix took another step closer towards winning Olympic gold by winning their semi-finals this evening.

In the 800m semis, Rudisha led from the front to safely make it through with 1:44.35. Britain's Andrew Osagie got the second automatic qualifying spot (1:44.74) as Nick Symmonds progressed as a fastest loser in a loaded semi-final, edging out Yuriy Borzakovskiy and Marcin Lewandowski.

Abubaker Kaki beat Nijel Amos in the first semi-final in a close finish, 1:44.51 to 1:44.54, while Ethiopia's Mohamed Aman impressed in the third semi with 1:44.34.

The women's 200m semi-finals got slightly quicker with each race. Defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown took the first in 22.32, followed by Felix winning the second (22.31) and Sanya Richards-Ross winning the third (22.30).

Also making it through to the final were Carmelita Jeter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Murielle Ahoure, Semoy Hackett and Myriam Soumare. All finalists have already competed in either the 100m or 400m.

Bolt in, Liu out on dramatic morning of heats

Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt was back on track today for the 200m heats and looked like he was out for a morning jog when winning his heat in 20.39. Team-mate and World 100m champion Yohan Blake looked equally as easy, taking his heat in 20.38. All the other big favourites made it through, although 2009 World silver medallist Alonso Edward was disqualified for false-starting. The fastest time of the day came from Alex Quinonez of Ecuador, who set a national record of 20.28.

But while the 200m heats were relatively uneventful, the same cannot be said for the first round of the men's 110m Hurdles. In an unfortunate rerun of the 2008 Games, Liu Xiang – wearing exactly the same race number as he did in Bejing four years ago – crashed into the first barrier and ruptured his Achilles as his hopes of regaining his Olympic title ended within a matter of seconds.

Three other athletes in that race – including 2008 finalist Artur Noga – failed to finish, while the third heat was similarly brutal as Andrew Pozzi and Shamar Sands were two of the three athletes to take a tumble.

But the likes of World champion Jason Richardson, defending champion Dayron Robles and World leader Aries Merritt – the latter running the fastest ever heat or quarter-final at the Olympics with 13.07 – all advanced to the semi-finals.

Liu was not the only big name to bow out. 2009 World Champion Phillips Idowu had been dogged with injury this year but had hoped to be fit enough to at least make the Triple Jump final. But the Briton was found short of form and could manage just 16.53m to finish 14th overall in qualifying.

The round was led by World champion Christian Taylor with 17.21m, needing just one jump to book his place in the final.

On a bad morning for the host nation, another one of their hopes, Goldie Sayers, also saw their Olympic dreams end as she tried to compete through the pain barrier. She had beaten all the world's top throwers at the recent London Diamond League but ruptured her elbow in the process. The injury had not cleared up in time for the Games and, clearly in pain, she failed to register a valid mark.

In contrast, defending champion Barbora Spotakova was in stunning form and posted the best mark of the day with 66.19m. Christine Obergfoll was just five centimetres behind, while World leader Sunette Viljoen led the second group of qualifiers (65.92m). But newly-crowned European champion Vira Rebryk was some way off her best and will not be in the final.

Having had four days to rest since successfully defending her Olympic 10,000m title, Tirunesh Dibaba made her win in this morning's 5000m heats look extremely easy. She was followed home by team-mate Meseret Defar and Kenya's Viola Kibiwot as all three dipped under 15 minutes.

The second heat was only marginally slower as Gelete Burka edged out Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego in a close finish.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  Report 8 August 2012 – London, UK

Triple gold for the USA from Felix, Merritt and Reese - London 2012 Day Six Report

London, UKThe United States moved to the top of the medals table and very nearly took gold in all of the finals this evening at the London Olympic Stadium. But three out of four ain't bad.

Despite closing fast in the first track final of the evening, the women's 400m Hurdles, World champion LaShinda Demus of the USA had to settle for silver behind Russia's Natalya Antyukh as just 0.07 separated the pair. But Allyson Felix, Aries Merritt and Brittney Reese lived up to expectations in the finals that followed to boost USA's gold medal tally by three.

Demus timed her race well and looked to have saved just enough for a late surge down the home straight. But Antyukh was ready to respond and was able to maintain her lead to the bitter end, breaking the tape in a PB of 52.70 – the second-fastest time in Olympic history. Demus was timed in 52.77, as the bronze medal went to Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic (53.38). The top five women broke 54 seconds with Kaliese Spencer in fourth and USA's Georganne Moline fifth.

 A dream comes true for Allyson Felix of the United States who won  the Women's 200m Final  of the London 2012 Olympic Games  on August 8, 2012 (Getty Images)

A dream comes true for Allyson Felix of the United States who won the Women's 200m Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 8, 2012

 Felix wins 200m gold at last

It was third time lucky for Allyson Felix, who won the Olympic 200m title that had eluded her in 2004 and 2008. On both previous occasions she had taken the silver medal behind Veronica Campbell-Brown, but this time the Jamaican finished outside the medals as the top two from the 100m – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter – took silver and bronze respectively.

Having this year improved her 100m speed, Felix was already in the lead as she came off the bend. She gradually pulled away from the field to win in 21.88 – her fifth career sub-22 clocking – as Fraser-Pryce set a PB of 22.09 ahead of Jeter (22.14). Campbell-Brown was tying up in the home straight and just about managed to hold off a fast-finishing Sanya Richards-Ross, 22.38 to 22.39.

Merritt keeps his cool to take 110m Hurdles gold

US champion Aries Merritt came to London as the favourite to win the 110m Hurdles after a string of three successive 12.93 clockings and big victories on the international circuit. Even a top-form Liu Xiang – who crashed out in the heats – would have struggled to catch the American tonight as Merritt ran away with the title in 12.92, finally breaking his personal best.

Up until the fifth hurdle, defending champion Dayron Robles had been in contention for a medal position, but her pulled up in pain, clutching at his hamstring. It left World champion Jason Richardson as Merritt's nearest challenger, but in the end Merritt was simply too good as Richardson took silver in 13.04.

Jamaica's Hansle Parchment had the run of his life to take bronze in 13.12, breaking the national record by 0.02 that he had set in the semi-finals. Britain's Lawrence Clarke was fourth in 13.39, having set a PB of 13.31 in the semis to make the final.

Reese continues Long Jump domination

Brittney Reese yesterday overcame a minor scare in qualifying to make the final as a non-automatic qualifier. But in today's final she regained her focus and sailed out to 7.12m to take gold. It was the best winning mark since 1996, when Chioma Ajunwa won with the same distance.

But it was close to being yet another disaster – aside from that mark, her only other valid attempt was a 6.69m leap, which would have otherwise only placed her seventh. As is often the case with Reese, she had some big fouls – some that looked to be in excess of her winning jump – but her victory was all that mattered.

Undoubtedly the most dominant long jumper of her generation, this was Reese's fifth successive global title, following her two World titles outdoors and two World Indoor golds.

It was a close competition too, with Russia's Yelena Sokolova just five centimetres behind with 7.07m to take the silver. Latvia's Ineta Radevica, the World bronze medallist, had taken an early lead with 6.88m and was still in a medal position for most of the competition, but USA's Janay DeLoach usurped her by one centimetre in the penultimate round to take the bronze with 6.89m.

Eaton looking good for gold after day one of Decathlon

As the only athlete in the world to have broken a world record this summer, decathlete Ashton Eaton came to London as one of the biggest gold medal favourites of the entire Games. On the first day of the 10-discipline event, he did not disappoint.

He opened his account with a 10.35 clocking in the 100m – the fastest ever within an Olympic Decathlon – and followed it with an 8.03m leap in the Long Jump. He threw 14.66m in the shot, better than his mark from the US Trials, to maintain his overall lead and followed it with 2.05m in the High Jump and 46.90 in the 400m.

It brought his day-one tally to 4661, which is slightly behind world record pace, but he insists that his main aim for this week is to win the title, and not necessarily break his 9039 World record. The Olympic record of 8893 though, is definitely within his grasp.

220 points behind Eaton, two-time World champion Trey Hardee had a solid day all-round, but he could find himself locked in a battle for silver as Olympic bronze medallist Leonel Suarez, Belgian record-holder Hans Van Alphen and Dutch record-holder Eelco Sintnicolaas are also performing at near-PB level. European champion Pascal Behrenbruch had a few disappointing events, but providing he has no more disasters tomorrow, he may not yet be completely out of the medal hunt.

Farah closes in on second medal, Wlodarczyk threatens Olympic record

Just a few days after taking 10,000m gold, Mo Farah returned to the Olympic Stadium today and qualified for the 5000m final, but his tiredness was evident as he lined up against fresher athletes. Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan took the first heat in 13:25.23 from Isiah Koech and Farah in third. But Kenya's Edwin Soi and Saudi Arabia's Moukheld Al-Outaibi – both sub-13 runners at their best – missed out on qualifying after finishing outside the top five.

They had no chance of grabbing a fastest loser spot, as the second heat was a speedy one – the fastest in Olympic history, in fact, as Dejen Gebremeskel led the way in 13:15.15. Team-mate Yenew Alamirew was close behind (13:15.39) with American duo Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp also qualifying as all the fastest loser spots came from this heat.

Former World record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk gave herself the best possible 27th birthday present as she qualified for the Hammer final with her first throw. Her 75.68m is just 66cm shy of the Olympic record and was easily the best mark of the day.

Joining her in the final will be world record-holder Betty Heidler, World champion Tatyana Lysenko, two-time World champion Yipsi Moreno and Asian record-holder Zhang Wenxiu. Defending Olympic champion Oksana Menkova only made it through to the final with her last throw, 73.10m.

Aside from a few non-starters and DNFs – including Ethiopian record-holder Fantu Magiso – all the main contenders made it through to the next round of the women's 800m. Defending champion Pamela Jelimo won her heat with ease in 2:00.54, while some of the other heat winners included World champion Mariya Savinova, 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei and US champion Alysia Montano.

The top two finishers at last year's World Championships – Pawel Wojciechowski and Lazaro Borges – will not compete in the Olympic Pole Vault final after going out in this morning's qualifying round. Wojciechowski has been struggling with injury all year and failed to clear his opening height of 5.35m, while Borges' focus was thrown after his pole snapped and could go no higher than 5.50m.

But defending champion Steve Hooker needed just one jump to make the final as his first-time clearance at 5.50m proved adequate to advance. Joining him in the final will be European champion Renaud Lavillenie, 2008 Olympic silver medallist Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and top German trio Bjorn Otto, Malte Mohr and Raphael Holzdeppe.

Two highly-competitive semi-finals saw the finalists decided in the women's 1500m - and they did not include World champion Jenny Simpson. The American was run out of it in the fast second race, finishing back in 12th. At the front it was Ethiopian record-holder Abeba Aregawi who impressed, clocking 4:01.03 to finish ahead of Turkey's Gamze Bulut (4:01.18). Former World champions Tatyana Chernova and Maryam Jamal also grabbed automatic qualifying spots, along with World indoor 3000m champion Hellen Obiri. The first semi was a few seconds slower but even more competitive as just a third of a second separated the top five finishers. They were led by European champion Asli Cakir (4:05.11) with Russian champion Yekaterina Kostetskaya and former World silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey progressing.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  Report London, UK

Rudisha breaks 800m world record, Bolt leads Jamaican 200m sweep - London 2012 Day Seven Report

It's not often that another athlete grabs the headlines on a night when Usain Bolt is in action, but David Rudisha did exactly that. For all the talk of a potential World record tonight by Bolt, instead it was Rudisha who beat the Jamaican superstar to it, setting a World record in what will go down in history as the greatest 800m race of all time.

Rudisha showed that tactical races needn't be slow. Indeed, Rudisha's sole tactic was to simply run at a pace that no one else can manage and he led the field through 400m in 49.28. He appeared to move up a gear with 300m to go, but despite the hot pace the rest of the field was still relatively close.

 David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya celebrates next to the clock after winning gold and setting a new world record in the Men's 800m Final on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic on 9 August 2012 (Getty Images)

David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya celebrates next to the clock after winning gold and setting a new world record in the Men's 800m Final on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic on 9 August 2012

 After going through 600m in 1:14.30, Rudisha's lead continued to grow. It was only in the closing stages that World junior champion Nijel Amos was able to make a dent in Rudisha's lead, but he was nowhere near catching the Kenyan. Meanwhile the other athletes in the field were being dragged through to the finish at a pace that most of them had never before run, scrapping for the bronze medal.

Rudisha crossed the line in 1:40.91, taking a tenth of a second off the World record he set two years ago in Rieti. But almost as staggering was the series of times that followed him across the line – Amos smashed the World junior record with 1:41.73, equalling the time set by Seb Coe in 1981 when he set the then World record.

Rudisha's team-mate Timothy Kitum set a Kenyan junior record and world age-17 best of 1:42.53 to take the bronze medal, closely followed by US duo Duane Solomon (1:42.82) and Nick Symmonds (1:42.95), both setting huge PBs. In sixth, Mohamed Aman broke his own Ethiopian record with 1:43.20, while Sudan's Abubaker Kaki was the only athlete not to set a PB, clocking 1:43.31 in seventh. Britain's Andrew Osagie rounded out the finalists with a PB of 1:43.77 for eighth.

With Rudisha breaking 1:41, two men under 1:42, five under 1:43 and all eight under 1:44, it was the greatest depth 800m race in history. The last time an 800m World record had been broken in a championships final was at the 1976 Olympics, when Alberto Juantorena ran 1:43.50.

Having now broken the world record three times and won gold at the World Championships and Olympic Games, Rudisha has etched his name in history as not only one of the greatest ever 800m runners, but as one of the greatest ever athletes, period.

Historic sweep for Jamaica as Bolt retains Olympic 200m title

When Michael Johnson ran 19.32 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, it propelled him into superstardom. He became the face of the Games and his performance was hailed as 'arguably the toughest world record on the track'.

It speaks volumes of Bolt's incredible ability that the same 19.32 clocking, for him, represents 'just' the third-fastest time of his career, and was not even the best performance on the track tonight. But that's to take nothing from Bolt, whose turnaround in form in recent weeks has been incredible.

Just a few weeks ago, training partner Yohan Blake had made Bolt look almost human when he beat him in both sprinting events at the Jamaican Championships. In London though, Bolt has shown who's boss – first in the 100m last weekend, and now with the 200m, successfully defending both of his Olympic titles.

Bolt had the lead coming off the bend, but for the first time at a championships since his big breakthrough four years ago, he found he had company down the home stretch. Blake pushed the big man all the way, but Bolt had the edge, winning in 19.32 as Blake closed in 19.44 – the fastest non-winning performance in history. Warren Weir – a training partner of Bolt and Blake – was the surprise package of the race, completing a Jamaican sweep of the medals with a huge 19.84 personal best.

If there was any doubt that the tide was turning in the sprinting world from the USA to Jamaica, then tonight's 200m final was further confirmation. It's the first time ever at the Olympics that Jamaica has swept the medals in a men's event. It's also only the third time in Olympic history (excluding the 1980 boycott) that USA has failed to win a medal in this event.

Wallace Spearmon was the top American, running 19.90 for fourth, while Churandy Martina finished fifth.

Eaton takes Decathlon gold, just shy of Olympic record

If there are just two things that any athlete dreams of, it's the World record and an Olympic gold. USA's Ashton Eaton has achieved both of those ambitions within the space of two months as tonight he struck gold in the Decathlon, following on from his World-record breaking performance from earlier this season.

His 9039 tally at the US Trials was such a stunning all-round display of athleticism, Eaton was always going to be hard-pushed to better that score at the London Olympics. He maintained from the outset that winning the gold would be his main aim, and he easily achieved that with a score of 8869, winning by almost 200 points.

After leading overnight by more than 200 points, two-time World champion Trey Hardee made a dent in Eaton's lead in the first two events of the second day as he beat Eaton in the 110m Hurdles, 13.54 to 13.56, and then threw almost six metres farther in the discus, 48.28m to 42.53m. But even then the gap between the American pair was still significant at 99 points.

Eaton opened up his lead again after the Pole Vault, where he cleared 5.20m before retiring from the competition to save himself for the javelin. Hardee managed just 4.80m, but was still on course to take the silver medal. The top vaulters of the day were Gonzalo Barroilhet of Chile and Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands, clearing 5.40m and 5.30m respectively. Although they shot up the overall standings, they were still outside medal contention.

Eaton's only PB of the entire competition came in the javelin, where he sent the spear flying out to 61.96m. It meant that he would only have to dip inside 4:30 in the 1500m to break Roman Sebrle's 8893 Olympic record. But today was not about records and Eaton was content to get around in 4:33.59. Hardee held on for the silver, setting a PB of 4:40.94 in the final event to score 8671 overall.

After a last-round clutch throw to stay in the discus and jumping below his best in the Pole Vault, Cuba's Leonel Suarez bounced back in the javelin with a stunning 76.94m throw – the farthest ever achieved in a Decathlon at the Olympics. It gave him just the points cushion over Belgium's Hans Van Alphen he needed as they headed into the final event. Van Alphen had continued his solid form across all events on the second day to put up a strong fight for a medal, but ultimately the Cuban was too good. With 4:30.08 in the 1500m, he took bronze with 8523, 76 points ahead of Van Alphen.

The revelation of the competition, though, has been Damian Warner. The Canadian came to London having just scraped over 8100 points this year. But he set six personal bests across the two days and added 335 points to his PB to finish fifth overall in 8442. The former long jumper only turned to the decathlon two years ago, and given his rapid progression and young age (22), he could well be a medal force at next year's World Championships.

Taylor and Claye once again on top in the Triple Jump

World champion Christian Taylor was facing a potential disaster in tonight's Triple Jump final. He recorded fouls on his opening two jumps – the second being a particularly big jump – and needed to register a good valid mark to stay in the competition.

His 17.15m did the job, but that only put him in fifth place. Team-mate Will Claye was leading with 17.54m as Italian duo Fabrizio Donato and Daniele Greco were also on top form. But in round four, Taylor bounded out to a world-leading 17.81m to take top spot.

Claye tried his best to respond and improved to 17.62m, but it was not enough and Taylor's arch-rival and friend had to settle for silver, reversing the finish from this year's World Indoor Championships. Donato, meanwhile, put together his best ever series at a global outdoor championships, improving in each of the first four rounds to take bronze with 17.48m. Team-mate Greco was fourth with 17.34m.

But there were horrific scenes mid-way through the competition. Defending bronze medallist Leevan Sands had looked to be in form to challenge for a medal, but on his fourth-round attempt his knee buckled on the final stage of his jump and he landed in a heap in the sandpit, clearly in agony. After several moments he was stretchered away from the pit.

Spotakova in a different league as she defends title

Any of Barbora Spotakova's valid marks in tonight's javelin final would have easily been enough to win the title as the Czech woman dominated proceedings. Held relatively late in tonight's schedule, the competition did not have the same excitement as last year's World final, and World Champion Mariya Abakumova did not even make it past the half-way stage, finishing 10th.

Spotakova's opening throw of 66.90m held the lead for the first three rounds before she unleashed her best mark of the day with a world-leading 69.55m in round four. Christina Obergfoll's opening throw of 65.16m saw her last the duration of the competition in the silver medal position, going one better than in Beijing four years ago, but adding to her collection of silver medals to go alongside those from the 2005 and 2007 World Championships and 2010 and 2012 Europeans.

World bronze medallist Sunette Viljoen was in third place for much of the competition until Germany's Linda Stahl produced a season's best of 64.91m to snatch the bronze medal in round four. China's Lu Huihui was fifth (63.70m), while Kathrina Molitor (62.89m) made it three Germans in the top six.

Excitement in relay heats

Bumping, barging, trips, falls, disqualifications and DNFs – and this was just the first round! The heats of the men's 4x400m were among the most eventful ever witnessed at the Olympic Games. In the first race, Trinidad & Tobago crossed the line level with Great Britain in 3:00.38, a national record for the former.

But most of the drama happened further down the field. On the second leg, Kenya's Vincent Kiilu moved out wide on the last bend, forcing South Africa's Ofentse Mogawane to trip as the pair collided. While Kiilu got back up on his feet, Mogawane had clearly come off worse and could not finish his lap, leaving Oscar Pistorius standing in the changeover zone. After an appeal, World silver medallists South Africa were given the spare ninth lane in the final, while Kenya was disqualified.

In the second heat, Bahamas took an early lead and at half way they were more than a second ahead of favourites USA, thanks to a 43.7 split from Demetrius Pinder. USA's Tony McQuay did a great job of chasing down the Bahamas with a 43.65 leg on the third stage, and the teams finished level with each other in 2:58.87 – the fastest ever heat time at the Olympics. USA's first-leg runner Manteo Mitchell appeared to have picked up an injury during the race and it was later discovered that he had been running with a broken fibula.

World bronze medallists Jamaica will not be in the final though, after third-leg runner and national record-holder Jermaine Gonzales pulled up. The Dominican Republic initially advanced to the final as a time qualifier – thanks to a 44.19 anchor from Luguelin Santos – but they were later disqualified.

There were fewer blunders in the women's 4x100m heats and the only surprise was that the Olympic record came under threat. The US women's quartet put together three slick exchanges to bring the baton home in 41.64 – just 0.04 outside the Olympic record. Trinidad & Tobago set a national record of 42.31 in second, so too did fourth-placers Netherlands (42.45). Brazil set an Area record of 42.55, which was good enough to advance to the final as a time qualifier.

Jamaica were expected to win the second semi-final, but some poor exchanges saw Kerron Stewart having to chase down Ukraine in the home straight. Elizabeta Bryzgina held on for the win though in 42.36 to 42.37. Germany were the third automatic qualifiers.

The semi-finals of the women's 800m featured the defending Olympic champion, the European champion, and the past three World champions – and all of them advanced to the final to set up a mouth-watering clash. Pamela Jelimo, winner in Beijing four years ago, kicked away with ease to book her place in the final in 1:59.42, joined by Yekaterina Poistogova in second (1:59.45).

Then came the fastest and toughest of the semi-finals as 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei led the field through half way in 57.36 seconds before 2009 World champion Caster Semenya cruised through to win in a season's best of 1:56.67 with European champion Yelena Arzhakova placing second (1:58.13). Jepkosgei and Alysia Montano advanced as time qualifiers.

The third semi was won by World champion Mariya Savinova, who bided her time before making her move as Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba chased hard, both taking the automatic qualifying spots.

Earlier today the world's top high jumpers were in action in the qualifying round, with the likes of World champion Anna Chicherova and World Indoor champion Chaunte Lowe making very easy work of their qualification. The pair cleared 1.93m at the first time of asking, which proved sufficient to make the final.

14 jumpers had cleared that height, but after long discussions with the officials it was decided that the bar would go up to 1.96m to whittle the field down to 12. It signalled the end of the competition for 2009 world bronze medallist Ariane Friedrich, whose third-time clearance at a season's best of 1.93m saw her miss out on count-back.

World Indoor silver medallist Ebba Jungmark and European silver medallist Tonje Angelsen also failed to make the final, but European champion Ruth Beitia, Sweden's Emma Green Tregaro and 2.01m jumper Brigetta Barrett all made it through.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  Report London, UK

USA breaks 4x100m World record but lose their crown in 4x400m - London 2012 Day 8 Report

London, UKIn the 27 years that the women's 4x100m World record had stood to East Germany, there have been many occasions where all-star teams from the USA and Jamaica appeared capable of breaking the third-oldest women's World record on the books

But pure potential alone counts for little when the changeovers do not go to plan, which is perhaps the biggest reason why the record stood for as long as it did. Tonight, though, USA had the combination of top talent – with three of the top five from the individual 100m – and solid baton exchanges and the result was a World record. And a big one at that.

Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold ahead of Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and set a new World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final  of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images)

 Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold ahead of Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and set a new World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 

 Tianna Madison got the team off to a great start and handed over to Allyson Felix, the Olympic 200m champion. Bianca Knight then took up the running before the baton was handed to World 100m champion Carmelita Jeter. She quickly got into her running and powered down the homestraight, stopping the clock in an incredible 40.82 – smashing the World record by 0.55, the largest ever margin of improvement on the World record in the event!

Jamaica's best ever team – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart – were no match for the USA, but they produced their fastest performance in history with a 41.41 national record, just 0.04 outside the previous World record.

Completing the duplication of the podium finish from last year's World Championships, Ukraine took the bronze medal with a national record of 42.04. Nigeria just held off Germany in fourth, 42.64 to 42.67.

But even the euphoria of a World record could not help boost USA's men's 4x400m team, who surrendered their long reign as the top nation in the long sprint relay.

The Bahamas had given the USA a scare in the heats yesterday, and once again they got off to a great start, thanks to Chris Brown (44.9) and Demetrius Pinder (43.5) and led at half way. A sensational 43.41 leg by Tony McQuay saw USA move into the lead by half a second with just one lap left to run. But Ramon Miller (44.01) chased Angelo Taylor (44.85) hard on the final lap and overtook him in the home straight, giving Bahamas an historic victory in a national record of 2:56.72.

USA clocked 2:57.05 to take silver, while Trinidad & Tobago smashed their national record for bronze 2:59.40, thanks in no small part to a 43.9 third leg from Jarrin Solomon. Great Britain dipped under three minutes, but finished out of the medals with 2:59.53.

Gold at last for Lavillenie with Olympic record

Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie has taken the bronze medal at the past two World Championships and for a moment tonight it looked as though the Frenchman would once again end up third.

The height which decided the medallists was 5.85m, which Lavillenie cleared first to maintain the lead. But German duo Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe both then popped over 5.91m at the first time of asking as Lavillenie failed and slipped into third place. It meant that World Indoor champion Lavillenie would have to be the first to clear the next height, 5.97m, to regain the lead.

A superb second-time clearance at that height sealed the gold – and the Olympic record – for Lavillenie as Holzdeppe failed three times and Otto also bowed out. Lavillenie went on to attempt 6.02m (once) and 6.07m (twice) but it was not to be.

Defar ends Dibaba's hopes of a double-double

Had Tirunesh Dibaba successfully defended her Olympic 5000m title tonight, she would have become the first woman in history to win four individual Olympic titles. But competing on tired legs in her third race within a week, Dibaba was out-sprinted by 2004 Olympic champion Meseret Defar.

The opening pace was slow and Britain's Jo Pavey was the reluctant early leader, going through 3000m in 9:27.75. With just over a kilometre of running left, Dibaba then took up the running but Defar, World champion Vivian Cheruiyot and 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego were all still in contention as they approached the final lap.

With a 60.20-second final 400m, Defar waited until the final straight to launch her attack and she kicked away to win in 15:04.25 as Cheruiyot came through for silver (15:04.73) and Dibaba held on for bronze (15:05.15) ahead of Kipyego.

Lysenko wins greatest quality women's Hammer competition in history

With the four top throwers of all-time, the women's Hammer final promised to be a classic and it did not disappoint. But it could have ended in disaster for World record-holder Betty Heidler, who almost missed out on a medal due to a mis-measure.

World champion Tatyana Lysenko smashed the Olympic record in the first round with 77.56m. The Russian never surrendered her lead and improved to 78.18m in round five to wrap up the title. 2009 World champion Anita Wlodarczyk steadily improved throughout the competition with 76.02m in round two, 77.10m in round five and 77.60m on her final throw.

Heidler unleashed a big throw in round five, but whose measurement was never sent to the results data system, and the German was given an extra throw, which she fouled. After the competition, officials found the original mark of Heidler's fifth-round throw and measured it at 77.13m.

It meant that she moved into the bronze medal position, relegating China's Zhang Wenxiu, who threw 76.34m in the second round, and as she took her last round throw believed she had taken the bronze medal. With three women over 77 metres, five over 76, eight over 74, and eleven over 71, it was easily the greatest ever depth witnessed in a women's hammer final.

See the Hammer Throw event report in 'Related Content' to the right of this text for detailed information concerning the competition and the Jury of Appeal decision

Turkey take 1-2 in women's 1500m

Despite seven of the 13 finalists boasting sub-four-minute PBs, the women's 1500m was a slow and scrappy affair which came down to a frantic last lap.

For the second major 1500m final in succession, USA's Morgan Uceny – a genuine medal contender given the nature of the race – was tripped and did not finish.

Replicating their finish from the European Championships earlier this year, Turkish pair Asli Cakir-Alptecin and Gamze Bulut took gold and silver in 4:10.23 and 4:10.40 respectively. Two-time World champion Maryam Jamal came through for the bronze medal in 4:10.74.

Earlier in the evening the heats of the men's 4x100m and women's 4x400m saw unprecedented depth. Jamaica, with Yohan Blake on the third leg, won the first heat of the 4x100m in 37.39, the second-fastest time in Olympic history – or at least it was, until the second heat.

Anchored by Justin Gatlin, USA won the second heat in a national record of 37.38. The other automatic time qualifiers were Canada (38.05), Japan (38.07), Trinidad & Tobago (38.10) and Netherlands (38.29, a national record). France (38.15) and Australia (38.17) advanced to the final as time qualifiers. World bronze medallists St Kitts and Nevis – despite breaking the national record with 38.41 on a team that did not include Kim Collins – only finished sixth in their heat and will not be in the final.

The second heat of the women's 4x400m could have almost been a final as the USA lined up alongside Russia and Great Britain. Unsurprisingly, it resulted in the fastest time ever witnessed in the heats at the Olympics as USA booked their placed in the final with 3:22.09, helped by a 49.78 split by individual bronze medallist DeeDee Trotter. Russia (3:23.11) and Great Britain (3:25.05) took the other automatic spots as the top three from this race all ran quicker than the winner of the first heat.

That race went to World silver medallists Jamaica, whose 3:25.13 put them comfortably ahead of Ukraine (3:25.90) with France finishing third. The Czech Republic and Nigeria qualified by time, while 3:26.52 by Belarus is the fastest ever time never to make an Olympic final.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  General News 11 August 2012 – London, UK

Two more World records fall as action concludes at Olympic Stadium – London 2012 Day 9 Report

London, UKWorld records*, Olympic records and surprise winners – the final full session at the London 2012 Olympics had a bit of everything. Even another gold for host nation Great Britain.

The curtain came down on the action inside the Olympic Stadium in spectacular fashion in the men's 4x100m Relay, and in the only way that Jamaica knew how – with a World record. That the times were fast was no surprise, given the results of yesterday's semi finals where both USA and Jamaica dipped under 37.40.

 Gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain (L) and Usain Bolt of Jamaica have fun on the podium after the medal ceremonies  - London 2012 Olympic Games  on August 11 2012 (Getty Images)

Gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain (L) and Usain Bolt of Jamaica have fun on the podium after the medal ceremonies - London 2012 Olympic Games on August 11 2012

 But today they were both faster; much faster. Jamaica were led off by Nesta Carter, who handed over to Michael Frater, while USA had Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin on the first two legs. Another sound changeover saw Yohan Blake tear around the top bend past Tyson Gay, but the final changeover to Usain Bolt was not as good as Gay's pass to Ryan Bailey and both teams began the final leg level.

Even then, the end result was inevitable as Bolt scorched down the home straight to bring Jamaica home in 36.84, smashing their previous mark by 0.20. USA equalled the old World record of 37.04, but were at least rewarded with another national record.

After Canada initially crossed the line in third, they were later disqualified as Jared Connaughton ran on the line. It promoted Trinidad & Tobago (38.12) to the bronze medal position, 0.04 ahead of France.

Half an hour earlier, USA had taken gold in the women's 4x400m Relay, running the fastest time in the world for 19 years. Led off by DeeDee Trotter (50.5), Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix produced an astonishing 47.8 split to give her team an unassailable lead. Francena McCorory coasted around her lap in 49.39 before Sanya Richards-Ross brought them home with a 49.10 leg, stopping the clock in 3:16.87 – the fastest time in the world since 1993.

Repeating the same podium finish from the past two Olympics, Russia took silver and Jamaica bronze. After a 51.0 opener from Yuliya Gushchina, the other members of the Russian team – Antonina Krivoshapka (49.6), Tatyana Firova (49.88) and Natalya Antyukh (49.67) – all dipped under 50 seconds to finish in 3:20.23. Jamaica, anchored by Novlene Williams-Mills in 49.46, clocked 3:20.95. Meanwhile, Ukraine (3:23.57) held off Great Britain (3:24.76) to finish fourth.

Second gold for flying Farah

The 5000m was always going to be a big ask for Mo Farah. Having to recover from the high of winning 10,000m last weekend and competing in his third – and by far most competitive – race of the Games, a medal of any colour was by no means a guarantee.

It was still anyone's to play for too as the field approached the final lap. The opening pace had been pedestrian as the lead hesitantly exchanged between several athletes, passing through 3000m in 8:42.95. But the pace wound up over the final kilometre as the real racing began with 400m to go.

A 52.94-second lap saw Farah hold off strong challenges from world leader Dejen Gebremeskel and Kenya's Thomas Longosiwa, winning with a time of 13:41.66 – a third of a second ahead of his Ethiopian rival, having covered the last kilometre in 2:25.19. USA's Bernard Lagat was fourth, one place ahead of Kenya's Isiah Koech.

Lashmanova shocks Kaniskina with 20km Race Walk World record

In one fell swoop, teenager Yelena Lashmanova dispelled two myths about race walking – the first that it is a boring event; and the second that there's never a close finish.

Defending champion Olga Kaniskina was out to win her fifth successive global title, and went off like a rocket, covering the first half in 42:33 – under World record pace. Lashmanova, meanwhile, was biding her time in the chase pack, waiting patiently to make her move. That came after 12km, with her break being marked by China's Qieyang Shenjie. The pair closed in hard on Kaniskina and with one kilometre to go, Lashmanova was just a few seconds behind her older and more experienced compatriot.

A visibly panicked Kaniskina tried her best to hold off Lashmanova in the closing stages, but the 19-year-old breezed past with 100m to go and crossed the line with in 1:25:02. Kaniskina finished seven seconds behind, while Qieyang set an Asian record of 1:25:16 in third.

Earlier in the day, The Mall near Buckingham Palace also played host to the men's 50km race walk. After disappointment in the 20km event, Russian athletes were out for redemption – and they gained exactly that, taking the title and placing all three athletes in the top six.

Two-time World champion Sergey Kirdyapkin had looked to be out of contention at one point as he was seven seconds behind the leaders at 30km. But he came back in dramatic fashion and quickly opened up a big lead. With just 5km to go, he was 26 seconds ahead of his chasers, but he continued to pull away.

He crossed the line in 3:35:59 – the fastest 50km race walk ever witnessed at a major championships, smashing the Olympic record. Australia's Jared Tallent timed his race to perfection to successfully defend his silver medal with a PB of 3:36:53, while China's Si Tianfeng – one of the early leaders – also set a lifetime best of 3:37:16 for the bronze.

World champions Savinova and Chicherova complete golden day for Russia

'Super Saturday' last weekend may have been a great day for host nation Britain, but today Russia went one better with their very own 'Super Saturday', taking four gold medals in total.

Having won both the race walking events earlier in the day, the gold rush continued through to the evening. First up was the High Jump, which had been expected to be another big clash between World champion Anna Chicherova and World Indoor champion Chaunte Lowe. But that head-to-head did not quite materialise as the American wound up in sixth place after failing to clear 2.00m.

Instead it was her team-mate Brigetta Barrett who posed the biggest threat to the Russian, and she cleared a lifetime best of 2.03m to move into second. But Chicherova sailed over 2.05m on her second attempt as Barrett and bronze medallist Svetlana Shkolina (2.03m) could not match her, wrapping up the title.

Given the quality of athletes in the women's 800m final, it looked as though it had the potential to be an extremely competitive race. But ultimately World champion Mariya Savinova ran away with the title as defending champion Pamela Jelimo faded in the home straight and Caster Semenya timed her charge too late.

USA's Alysia Montano had led through half way in 56.31 before Jelimo took up the running on the back straight, at which point Semenya was at the back of the field. Savinova began to move up before kicking clear of Jelimo and storming down the home straight to win by more than a second in a world-leading 1:56.19.

Semenya overtook the fading Jelimo to take silver in 1:57.23, while Russian champion Yekaterina Poistogova also caught the Kenyan on the line to take bronze in 1:57.53 – the only athlete in the field to set a PB.

Teenager Walcott upsets the form book in the javelin

The men's Javelin final had always looked as though it would be an open one, but few could have predicted that the winner would be a 19-year-old from Trinidad & Tobago.

Less than one month ago, Keshorn Walcott became the first athlete from his country to win a global title in a throwing event, taking gold at the World Junior Championships. Four weeks on from that victory, he now has another global title – an Olympic one, no less!

He opened with a PB of 83.51m before improving to 84.58m – the second-best mark ever by a junior athlete. It may be the lowest winning mark at the Olympics since 1988, but that mattered little to Walcott. All that mattered was that it was enough to take gold, and by the margin of just seven centimetres.

Ukraine's Oleksandr Pyatnytsya threw 84.51m in the third round to take the silver medal, while Finland's Antti Ruuskanen moved into third on his fifth-round throw, 84.12m.

Most surprising were the athletes who missed out on medals in fourth to sixth. After setting a world-leading 88.34m in qualifying, European champion Vitezslav Vesely was exactly five metres down on that to finish fourth. 2007 World champion Tero Pitkamaki was fifth (82.80m) as two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen surrendered his title, finishing sixth with 82.63m.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
  General News

12 highlights - London 2012

Surprise winners, golden doubles, shock exits – the athletics competitions of the Games of XXX Olympiad, London 2012 had them all. Four World records**, 11 Olympic records and 23 world leads were set in total – all of which will long live in the memory as classic moments from the 2012 Games.

It’s nigh on impossible to pick just one or two top moments from the London 2012 Olympic Games. Even 10 highlights would be difficult to compile, but it’s just about possible to cram them all into a list of 12.
 Closing Ceremony - London 2012 (Getty Images)
 Rudisha's World record

Who says you need a pace-maker to break a World record in a distance event? Certainly not David Rudisha, who produced the highlight of the championships – and one of the greatest performances in athletics history – when winning the 800m with a World record of 1:40.91. The great Kenyan knew that his best chance of winning his first Olympic title would be to do what he knows best – run fast; faster than anyone else has ever been capable of. His tactic worked and it resulted in the greatest 800m race of all time as five men dipped under 1:43 and all four finalists broke 1:44. Rudisha became the first World record holder of the men's 800m to have won gold at both the World Championships and Olympic Games.

Bolt's historic triple; 4x100m World record

"I am now a legend," declared Usain Bolt, after becoming the first man to win the Olympic sprint double at back-to-back Games. And it's difficult to argue with the Jamaican, given all he has achieved over the past four years. His 100m and 200m victories in London were particularly satisfying, as he had suffered defeats in both events to training partner Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Championships earlier in the year. But Bolt was able to turn on the magic when it mattered most, and he was rewarded with a 9.63 Olympic record in the 100m and a 19.32 clocking in the 200m, following them both with a victory in the 4x100m in a World record to boot.

Flying Farah at the double

He came close to achieving the distance double at last year’s World Championships, but in London – and helped by the roaring home crowd – Mo Farah went one better and took two gold medals. First up was the 10,000m, the event he said was his priority, where the pace wound up lap after lap before Farah kicked away to take his first Olympic victory. The 5000m one week later was his third race of the Games, but he showed no signs of tiredness on the final lap as he saw off the challenge of the world’s best distance runners to take another gold medal.

USA obliterate 4x100m World record

After several near misses and a few wasted opportunities, the USA in the women's 4x100m finally benefited from the combination of perfect baton exchanges and an all-star team – Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter – and the result was truly stunning. They didn't just break the World record, they absolutely obliterated it with a sensational 40.82 – taking 0.55 off the record that had stood to East Germany since 1985.

Pearson wins close contest in 100m Hurdles

Sally Pearson is one of the most dominant athletes in the world, but being the hotly-tipped athlete for the women's 100m Hurdles in Olympic year is not necessarily a good thing – as the pre-race favourites for the past five Olympic titles will attest to, having all missed out on gold. Pearson ended that pattern and duly won gold, but despite breaking the Olympic record with 12.35, the race was much closer than anticipated. Defending champion Dawn Harper crossed the line almost level with the Australian, but after a nervous wait Pearson was declared the winner, just 0.02 ahead of Harper as Kellie Wells took bronze.

USA's 4x400m reign ended by Bahamas

Three of USA's top relay runners were struck by injury before the final of the men's 4x400m. Still, you'd expect the strongest 400m nation in history to field a relay team that is capable of beating the Bahamas – a nation who, in terms of population, is almost 1000 times smaller. But after a close run in the heats, the USA found themselves almost one second down at halfway in the men's 4x400m final. Tony McQuay put them back in the lead, but it wasn't to last as Ramon Miller produced the run of his life to give the Bahamas the victory in a national record of 2:56.72.

Harting escapes rare defeat

He was one of the biggest favourites of the Games. Robert Harting had not lost a discus competition for two years, and he was primed to win his first Olympic gold. Iran's Ehsan Hadadi unleashed a mammoth 68.18m in round one, to which Harting responded with 67.79m. The German remained cool, knowing that there were five more rounds in which to improve. But he failed to do so in the second, and the third. After the fourth round – with Harting's opening throw remaining his best – the situation became a bit more pressured. But the two-time World champion refused to panic and on his penultimate throw he sent his disc flying out to 68.27m. In a close competition, less than a quarter of a metre separated the three medallists.

Ennis lives up to expectations

She was billed as the face of the Games; Jessica Ennis was the 'Cathy Freeman’ of the London Olympics. Only her event took longer than 49 seconds – two days, in fact, as she had to cope with the weight of the host nation’s expectation throughout all seven events of the heptathlon. Her nerves were evident, but once each discipline got underway, Ennis produced some of the best performances of her life – including a 12.54 national record in the 100m Hurdles and a 22.83 PB in the 200m. Setting her second UK Heptathlon record of the year (6955), Ennis won by more than 300 points. It kick-started a gold rush for the host nation on the first Saturday of the Games as Britain went on to win two more titles within 40 minutes that evening.

Surprise winners - men’s Marathon and Javelin Throw

Championship marathons are notoriously tricky to predict, but such is the strength in depth of Kenya and Ethiopia in the event, it was difficult to look beyond the world’s top two distance-running nations. So strong was Kenya’s team, for example, that they could afford to leave the World record-holder at home, while Ethiopia fielded three men who had this year broken 2:05. Yet it was the previously unheralded Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, competing in just his fourth marathon, who ran away with the title. With little more than three miles of running left, he stepped up a gear and left two-time World champion Abel Kirui and London Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang in his wake, pushing on to take gold in 2:08:01. More of a surprise still was the men's Javelin Throw with Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago winning in a national record of 84.58. He was his country’s first ever Olympic throwing events finalist let alone medallist, its first Olympic track and field gold medallist since Hasley Crawford, the 1976 100m champion, and he also became only the second athlete to win World Junior and Olympic titles in the same season.

High quality in women’s 100m

Almost lost in the excitement of Britain’s 'Super Saturday’ was one of the greatest women’s 100m finals of all time. No longer is it just enough to dip under 11 seconds, hoping to get among the medals. Five women broke 10.9 as 11.01 was only good enough for eighth place. At the head of the field was Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who fought off a strong challenge from World champion Carmelita Jeter to successfully defend the title she won four years earlier in Beijing.

Eaton's all-round display

There is no tougher test in athletics than the Decathlon, and what greater stage than the Olympics to determine the world's best all-round athlete? Not that Ashton Eaton's victory in the 10-discipline event was a surprise, as earlier this year he had broken the World record in the event with 9039. There's always the worry that something could go wrong, but fortunately for Eaton they did not materialise and the American performed close to his best in every event to win with 8869. Even team-mate Trey Hardee – a two-time World champion in the event – could finish no closer than 198 points to Eaton in the overall standings, declaring afterwards that Eaton is the greatest athlete the world has ever seen.

Kaniskina upstaged by new star of Race Walking and World record

She may not be a household name, but in recent years race walker Olga Kaniskina has established herself as one of the most dominant athletes on the planet, winning three World titles and the 2008 Olympic title. So when she reached the half-way stage of the women’s 20km Race Walk at the London Olympics with a huge lead, it looked as though it would be another inevitable victory for the Russian. But no one had given the script to Kaniskina’s younger team-mate, Yelena Lashmanova, who set off in pursuit of the long-time leader in the closing stages. The 19-year-old caught Kaniskina just moments before the line in one of the closest and most exciting finishes ever to a major championships Race Walk, setting a World record of 1:25:02. Competing in just her third ever race over the 20km distance, Lashmanova became the youngest ever Olympic race walking champion.


Finally, although they don’t count as athletics events, there were other magical moments that took place inside the Olympic stadium that deserve an honourable mention – the opening and closing ceremonies. Produced by film director Danny Boyle, the "Isles of Wonder" opening ceremony presented the host nation’s history in a unique – and at times bizarre – way, while the closing ceremony, directed by Kim Gavin, was a celebration of all things British and featured performances from some of the country’s top music stars. But most impressive was the use of technology to light up the stadium, leaving the 80,000 people in attendance absolutely captivated by the atmosphere.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
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