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Report: World Athletics Championships 2013

Opening day at the World Athletics Championships

Opening ceremony at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, 10 August
Opening ceremony at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, 10 August Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Five things we learned from the opening day at the World Athletics Championships.

  • You can’t go wrong with classical music. The opening ceremony obviously wasn’t the must have ticket in Moscow as the Luzhniki Stadium was far from full. But those inside got a treat as we were acquainted with Russia ’s gifts to the world via the arts and sciences. There were pieces by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky. Who needs billions.
  • There’s nothing quite like brotherly love. The Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie will compete in day three's s pole vault final alongside his younger brother,Valentin. It’s the first time simblings have competed in an event since Sergey and Vasily Bubka vied for the 1993 world championship pole vault title in Stuttgart. Sergey won that duel. Of the Lavillenie boys, Renaud is the favourite as he’s got more experience than little bro who’s taking part in his first world championships.
Dossier: IAAF World Championships
  • The cameraman – or woman for that matter - can’t resist a quick Leni Riefenstahl shot of the marathon runners. Fifteen minutes into the women’s race and the Eurosport person behind the lens zoomed in on the racers' shadows on the road. That’s straight out of Riefenstahl’s 1936 opus Olympia . Her meisterstuck revolutionised the way sport was filmed. Alas for Leni, she was deemed to be the court photographer to the Nazi party and suffered artistically somewhat after the second world war.
  • Moscow isn’t London. Mo Farah claimed Olympic gold last year in London in the 10,000 metres and there was a wall of sound as he went on that historic final lap to add that title to his 5,000 metres crown. In the Luzhniki stadium it wasn’t anywhere near as deafening but he won the 10,000 metres, beating Ibrahim Jeilan into silver and thereby gaining revenge over the Ethiopian who pipped him over the line in Daegu in South Korea two years ago.
  • You can’t make it up sometimes. There's a geo-political hinterland to the world championships. Thirty-three years ago, the United States led a boycott of the Moscow Olympics due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. More than 60 nations shunned the games which were based at the Luzhniki stadium. These world championships have more than 2,000 athletes from 200 countries taking part. First country up in the opening ceremony’s parade of nations? Afghanistan.

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