Katarina Johnson-Thompson deposed her great rival Nafissatou Thiam as heptathlon world champion on Thursday on a night when two other 2017 titleholders also surrendered their crowns.
Johnson-Thompson’s victory could not be described as a shock but Salwa Eid Naser’s victory in the 400 metres caused shockwaves.
The 21-year-old Bahraini – who left 2017 champion Phyllis Francis trailing in her wake – recorded the third fastest time in history of 48.14 seconds.
Only East Germany’s world record holder Marita Koch and Jarmila Kratochvilova of the former Czechoslovakia have run faster and both were over 30 years ago.
In doing so she became the first athlete to beat hot favourite Shaunae Miller-Uibo in over two years over both 200m and 400m.
The Miller-Uibo household’s trophy cabinet will be enriched by two silver medals as her husband Maicel Uibo finished seocnd in the decathlon.
That competition was destined for a new champion once France’s world record holder Kevin Mayer had to wave the white flag due to injury in the third event of the day, the pole vault.
Germany’s Niklas Kaul emerged victorious in an event that went down to the wire and the final event, the 1,500m.
Johnson-Thompson was unrelenting in her pursuit of gold and finally taking the scalp of Thiam, who was burdened by a right elbow injury.
The 26-year-old eventually cruised to the title – Thiam suffering her first defeat since 2016 – rounding off the seven discipline event in style by winning the 800m.
Johnson-Thompson capped a perfect two days in also beating Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record of 6,955 points, set during the London 2012 Olympics, by 36 points.
‘I wanted to be chased’
As the enormity of her achievement sank in, Johnson-Thompson clasped her face with both hands in disbelief and fell to the track.
“It has not settled in,” said Johnson-Thompson.
“I was there competing at the Olympics in 2012 and was there when she (Ennis-Hill) broke her own record so it is unbelievable to me that I passed that score.”
Naser – silver medalist in the 2017 400m final – produced a blistering performance passing the pace-setting Francis and then leaving hot favourite Miller-Uibo with too much ground to make up in the straight.
Naser – who said the “time is so crazy” – admitted afterwards a change of tactics had aided her.
“I’m used to chasing,” said the Nigeria-born athlete.
“When you watch my race normally I chase. Today I wanted to be chased and it worked.”
Mayer bowed out of the decathlon in tears with his head buried in the mattress after being unable to perform one vault.
He had looked in trouble after pulling up at the end of the the 110 metres hurdles but had retaken the lead with a good effort in the discus.
“I am not okay but it will be fine,” said Mayer.
“It was disappointing because I was leading but this is sport.
“One has to accept things will happen when you compete in 10 events and in general they are good.”
He did not stay to see the denouement.
He left the complex limping, his arm draped round the shoulder of his girlfriend French windsurfing champion Delphine Jariel, with her trailing a suitcase behind them.
His successor – who put himself into contention with a massive throw in the penultimate discipline the javelin – was modest about his achievement.
“I am not the best decathlete in the world but maybe the most consistent,” said Kaul.
While Thursday’s medallists celebrated, Sifan Hassan’s pursuit of a second title at the championships is very much on.
The 26-year-old Dutch athlete, who has already won the 10,000m crown, showed no signs of the supension of her coach Alberto Salazar affecting her as she won her semi-final in the 1,500m