Wayde van Niekerk focuses for the second time after an aborted first start in his 400m heat. Photo: Phil Noble, Reuters

LONDON - The IAAF World Championships drew to a close, producing one of the most drama-filled showpieces in years with a host of upsets signalling the changing of the guard.

Usain Bolt and Mo Farah conceded their 100m and 5000m crowns respectively, proving they were mere mortals after all.

The championships were the perfect display of what the sport is about, with a healthy spread of medals among the countries. We unpack the highs of the biennial showpiece.

Wayde a two-time champ

Aiming for the stars, Wayde van Niekerk came into the championships with the hopes of becoming only the second man to win the 200-400m double gold after Michael Johnson in Gothenburg 1995.

The 400m world record-holder came painstakingly close to achieving this feat, racing to gold in the 400m before clinching the silver in the 200m.

There is no doubting Van Niekerk’s growing legend as he nearly reached one of the pinnacles of the sport after six consecutive days of competitive racing.

Treble golden girl Semenya

Chasing her own double Caster Semenya attempted to become the first woman to win both the 800m and the 1500m at the world championships.

Racing the 1500m purely for fun, Semenya was delighted to come away with the bronze.

As the pièce de résistance, she won her third 800m world title, crossing the line in her 19th consecutive final to confirm her absolute dominance in the two-lap event over the past two years.

Semenya did not only beat a world-class field but also won over the passionate crowd with her winning smile and golden glow.

Manyonga: The sand angel

Dropping into the pit where he had landed a world-title winning leap, Luvo Manyonga made a sand angel signifying his rise since his fall from grace.

The horizontal jump phenom came into the championships as a resounding favourite with a world-leading 8.65m, but an injury before the championships placed doubts on his chances.

Despite the flashbacks of his one-centimetre Olympic defeat, Manyonga did not disappoint as he claimed victory with a winning leap of 8.48m to add to his world junior crown from 2010.

Luvo Manyonga jumped into the sandpit after winning gold! Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/ Reuters

The day walker Shange

Lebogang Shange produced one of South Africa’s gutsiest and inspiring performances of the championships when he came within striking distance of winning a 20-kilometre Race Walk medal.

Moving like a man possessed, Shange went from 20th position at the halfway mark, trailing by 30 seconds to move into the lead with 3km to go.

He finished just 14 seconds behind the bronze medallist, but there is certainly no shame in fourth place when nobody gave him a chance, with Shange also breaking the national record in the process.

Samaai shines

Sharing a podium with Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai was the poster child of perseverance as he brushed off the disappointment of the Rio Olympic Games to play his part in South Africa’s first double medal-haul in the same final at the global showpiece.

Samaai hovered outside a podium place before securing the bronze with his final leap of 8.32m to give South Africa a memorable near-sweep of the medals.

Usain is human after all

The buildup to the championships centred around Jamaican sprinting legend Bolt’s final hurrah.

Bowing out with the 100m bronze medal did little to tarnish a career which included seven individual world titles and six individual Olympic golds.

Instead it enhanced his legend give us mere mortals hope that our heroes are not infallible.

The Makwala challenge

Botswana's Isaac Makwala does push-ups after running a repeat of the men's 200m heats. Photo: EPA/SRDJAN SUKI

Makwala missed out on the 400m after he was placed under 48-hours quarantine following a confirmed outbreak of norovirus among athletes at the championships, but featured in the 200m final.

Makwala was given the option of a 200m time-trial in pouring rain to qualify for the semi-finals.

Makwala dipped below the required time, the one-arm sleeve-wearing athlete dropped to the track and entertained the crowd with a few press ups.

Imitating Makwala, fans from around the world wore everything from plastic bags to socks on their arms doing pushups in social media videos.

The Star

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