Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji went joint fourth in the all-time list as she upset the field to win gold in the women’s world indoor 60m in Belgrade on Friday.
Rapidly out of her blocks in lane eight, Kambundji streaked through the line at the Stark Arena in 6.96 seconds to outstrip more fancied rivals.
Only Russian record holder Irina Privalova (6.92sec), and the American pair of Gail Devers and Marion Jones have run faster over 60m, all in the 1990s. Kambundji’s time leaves her joint fourth on the all-time top list alongside Jamaican legend Merlene Ottey and Greek Katerina Thanou.
Americans Mikiah Brisco, in 6.99sec, and Marybeth Sant-Price (7.04) claimed silver and bronze. But Poland’s pre-race favourite Ewa Swoboda was left with a bitter pill to swallow, finishing fourth in a photo finish with Sant-Price.
“I wasn’t sure at all that I’d won,” said Kambundji. “I saw the camera was focusing on me, so I thought maybe.
“Then I was really happy to see that I’d won! I wasn’t in a good race mood this morning, and then really nervous. I was a lot better this evening.
“I was a bit disappointed to see I was in lane eight… but I just focused on myself and did my best race.”
Britain’s Katharina Johnson-Thompson, in her first competition in a year after relocating to the United States and changing coaches, failed in her bid to become the first woman to retain the indoor pentathlon title after her triumph in Birmingham in 2018.
The Briton, also world heptathlon winner at the 2019 Doha outdoor champs, struggled throughout and eventually pulled out before the final event, the 800m.
In the absence of Olympic champion Nafi Thiam, it was another Belgian who struck gold in Noor Vidts, who amassed 4,929 points, 78pts ahead of Poland’s silver medallist Adrianna Sulek, with American Kendell Williams (4,680) taking bronze.
Vidts clocked 8.15sec in the 60m hurdles before bests of 1.83m in the high jump and 14.03m in the shot put.
She then leaped a personal best of 6.60m in the long jump before holding on to win the strength-sapping 800m in a PB of 2:08.81.
“The competition was really good, almost perfect. Only the shot put could have been a little bit better,” beamed Vidts.
Don’t risk injury
Johnson-Thompson insisted she would remain positive after having come to Belgrade on a wildcard.
“I’m happy and healthy,” Johnson-Thompson told BBC. “I’m not scared to come out here and get beat. The most important thing was to not risk injury.”
It was a mixed bag for Olympic jump champions as Cuban Lazaro Martinez upset Tokyo triple jump gold medallist Pedro Pichardo of Portugal in the morning session.
Greek Militiadis Tentoglou made no such mistake in the long jump, however, soaring out to 8.55m for a dominant victory ahead of Sweden’s Thobias Montler (8.38) and American Marquis Dendy (8.27).
Dendy’s teammate Chase Ealey thought she had grabbed gold in the women’s shot put when she went out to a leading 20.21m with her fifth effort.
But she hadn’t counted on European champion Auriol Dongmo of Portugal, the Cameroon-born athlete responding immediately with 20.43 for the win.
Back on the track, Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu won gold in the women’s 3,000m, clocking 8:26.93 as she outsprinted American Elinor Purrier St Pierre for the line, another Ethiopian, Ejgayehu Taye, rounding out the podium.
Canada’s Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner goes into the second day of the men’s heptathlon in the lead, on 3,649 points, just 30 ahead of Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer.
Fans were guaranteed another prized duel as two-time Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and Dutch athlete Femke Bol both qualified for the final of the women’s 400m on Saturday.
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