Down but not out - Dafne Schippers recovers after winning the world 200m title in a Championship record of 21.63 ©Getty Images

On the day when Liu Hong duly delivered the host nation its first gold of the World Athletics Championships in today’s women’s 20 kilometres race walk, with team-mate Xiuzhi Lu adding silver, Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands became the first European winner of the world 200 metres title since 2003.

She ran a Championship record of 21.63sec as Jamaicans Elaine Thompson and double Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown took silver and bronze in, respectively, a personal best of 21.66 and 21.97.

Schippers now stands third on the all-time world list behind the late world record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner, 21.34, who has been the subject of persistent rumour regarding doping, and fellow American Marion Jones, 21.62A, who was stripped of five medals from the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting steroid abuse.

Asked about how she felt taking her place in such a list, she said: "At the moment I’m just very happy with my time and with my European record.

"I know that I’m clean and that I worked very hard for that.

"I do all the dope controls - I mean, what more can I say about that?"

Four days earlier the former heptathlete had taken 100m silver behind defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a national record of 10.81, and appeared to be gaining steadily on the Jamaican in the final few metres.

How that might have played out over 200m was not to be tested, as Fraser-Pryce did not defend the longer sprint, but Schippers ran with huge authority to win with a resounding flourish.

“What a race! What a Championship for me! I don’t believe it,” said Schippers, who needed to lie down on the track for a while as she recovered from her exertions.

All three medallists surpassed the fastest time of the year, 21.98, set by three-times world champion Allyson Felix, who won the 400m that was her main target here last night.

China's Liu Hong (right), who earned her country's first gold in the women's 20km race walk, celebrates with silver medallist  Xiuzhi Lu ©Getty Images
China's Liu Hong (right), who earned her country's first gold in the women's 20km race walk, celebrates with silver medallist Xiuzhi Lu ©Getty Images

Earlier, Liu and Lu had set off huge applause in the Bird’s Nest as they entered together, well clear, and walked together to the line where Liu, the world record holder, edged ahead, although both were timed at 1 hour 27min 45sec.

“Today I felt the responsibility, the mission,” said Liu.

The result lifted China to seventh in the overall medals table with one gold, four silvers and a bronze.

Kenya lead the table from the United States, with six golds, three silvers and two bronzes.

Russia’s unhappy experience at these Championships so far was brightened by the performance of their European 110m hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov, who won what always looked an open final in a national record of 12.98 ahead of Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment who ran 13.03 and bronze medallist Aries Merritt, America's world record holder, who clocked 13.04.

Merritt’s was arguably the medal of greatest merit.

Having returned to competition after a debilitating kidney problem, he revealed after his race that a date had been set for him to receive a kidney transplant – with his sister being the donor.

“This is why she didn’t come to Beijing,” he said.

“She didn’t want to endanger the transplant.”

Aries Merritt, the US 110m hurdles world record holder pictured en route to his bronze medal. He revealed aferwards that he now knows the date of his kidney transplant, with the donor being his sister ©Getty Images
Aries Merritt, the US 110m hurdles world record holder, pictured en route to his bronze medal, revealed afterwards that he now knows the date of his kidney transplant, with the donor being his sister ©Getty Images

A decade after winning her first world long jump gold at the age of 19, Tianna Bartoletta of the United States regained the title with a final round effort of 7.14 metres, the furthest in the world this year.

Until the dramatic effort of this jumper-turned-sprinter-turned-jumper, it seemed that Britain’s Shara Proctor – originally from the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla – was going to repeat the triumph of her training partner Greg Rutherford in the men’s long jump thanks to a national record of 7.07m in the third round.

Ivana Spanovic of Serbia took the bronze medal, confirming her position with a final round national record of 7.01m, with Christabel Nettey of Canada fourth on 6.95m.

As one US talent after another has risen to the top of the world lists in the women’s 100m hurdles it seemed simply a case of which one would win when the biggest race of the season arrived in Beijing.

As it turned out, improbably, no US sprinter even made the podium as Danielle Williams of Jamaica claimed gold in a personal best of 12.57 ahead of Germany’s Cindy Roleder, who also ran a personal best, 12.59, and bronze medallist Alina Talay of Belarus, who set a national record of 12.66.

US defending champion Brianna Rollins and her team-mate Sharika Nelvis, who leads the world lists with 12.34, got away to a promising start but faded away from the halfway point, with Rollins finishing fifth in 12.67 and Nelvis ending up last in 13.06 after losing her form completely over the last set of hurdles.

The US had already suffered two unexpected upsets in the semi-finals earlier in the evening as first Dawn Harper-Nelson of all people, the super-experienced Beijing 2008 champion and London 2012 silver medallist, fell at the second hurdle and then the woman who had followed her home in the US trials, Kendra Harrison, was disqualified for a false start.

A stunning 45.00 400m run – taking more than half a second off his best – left Ashton Eaton in the ideal position to defend his decathlon title.

In his first decathlon since the last World Championships in Moscow two years ago, the American now leads by more than 300 points with an overnight total of 4,703 points. 

Damian Warner of Canada is in silver medal position with 4,530, 124 points clear of Germany’s Rico Freimuth.

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