The United States topped the medals table after nine days of riveting action at the world championships marked by Usain Bolt’s return to the top of his game after disqualification in the 100m.
The US amassed 25 medals, including 12 gold, eight silver and five bronze, to finish ahead of Russia, with 19 medals (9, 4, 6).
Bolt once again stole the show despite a false start on the second day that saw him sensationally disqualified from the 100m final, in which he was defending champion.
The 25-year-old Jamaican, Olympic double sprint champion and world record holder in both events, put that behind him to retain his 200m crown in 19.40sec, the fourth fastest time ever run over the distance.
He then went on to anchor the Jamaican 4x100m relay team to a new world record of 37.04sec in the final event of the Daegu showpiece and immediately turned his sights on next year’s London Olympics.
“The Olympics are going to be a big thing for me. I’m going to be really serious,” said world sport’s most marketable personality.
Bolt’s shocking 100m disqualification was followed by the equally dramatic stripping of Cuban world record holder Dayron Robles’ gold in the 110m hurdles.
Robles, the Olympic champion, was adjudged to have obstructed China’s Liu Xiang in the final, American Jason Richardson instead taking the honours in a gripping race.
A performance to match that of Bolt’s came in the form of Australian Sally Pearson, who scorched to 12.28sec – also the fourth fastest time in history – in the 100m hurdles, the world record in which dates back to 1986.
Kenya finished third in the medals table with seven golds thanks to the east African country’s amazing strength in depth in distance running and a generally underwhelming performance by the Ethiopian team, for whom track legend Kenenisa Bekele failed to fire.
Incredibly, Kenya won seven of the 12 events for men and women from the 800m through to the marathon, accruing 17 of the possible 36 medals on offer. Star of their show was Vivian Cheruiyot, who notched up the women’s 5000-10,000m double.
Russia swept all race walking medals, their team of walkers benefiting from head coach Viktor Chegin’s gruelling one-month pre-worlds training camp in the Caucasus mountains.
The championships were notable for the number of competing title holders who were stripped of their crowns.
Big names to fall by the wayside included Bahraini imports Yusuf Kamel (men’s 800m) and Maryam Jamal (women’s 1500m), Bekele (5000, 10,000m) and Australian Steve Hooker (pole vault).
Among others losing their titles but still medalling were Blanka Vlasic (high jump), Andreas Thorkildsen (javelin), LaShawn Merritt (400m), Allyson Felix (200m) and Jessica Ennis (heptathlon).
Four of the biggest stars to watch in coming years emerged from the wreckage: Kenyan 800m world record holder David Rudisha, teenage Grenada 400m champ Kirani James, Polish pole vaulter Pawel Wojciechowski and Russian heptathlete Tatyana Chernova.
But in the women’s pole vault, one of the sport’s biggest names, Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, made a hash in her bid to claim a first global title since her second Olympic gold in the Beijing Games in 2008, Brazilian Fabiana Murer vaulting to a shock win.
South African Oscar Pistorius also made history by becoming the first amputee to take part in the worlds, making the semi-finals of the men’s 400m.
The double amputee who runs on carbon prostethic blades also departed South Korea with a silver medal for being part of the 4x400m relay squad. He ran the heat but did not compete in the final itself.
Pistorius unfortunately showed an unbefitting bout of sour grapes by publicly doubting clearly unsentimental team selection, South African officials saying he had been dropped because he clocked the slowest individual time in the heat.
Pistorius’ teammate Caster Semenya emerged from the shadows of doubts over her true gender to claim a silver in the women’s 800m, keen to bury the past and move on.