Home fans at London 2017 may have suffered some oddly comforting flashbacks this week to the late 90s and early naughties, when Brits snatched plucky fourth-placed finishes from the jaws of glory like clockwork. Even then, though, there was always one athlete of rare talent at the top of their field. Paula Radcliffe, head lolloping, would streak away to marathon glory. Jonathan Edwards, the standard bearer for humble Britishness, would defy gravity in the triple jump, or Colin Jackson would harness every last drop of gravity to achieve his title-winning dip over the line.
Now it is Mo Farah, whose domination of long distance running has become ludicrously routine, raising him to the top of all the British star athletes before him. In what he says will be his final major race, Farah is aiming to sign off with his seventh world title to add to his four Olympic gold medals in the 5,000m final (8.20pm BST) this evening, but this will be harder assignment than the 10,000m gold he won so impressively a week ago. He has picked out Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei as the main threat once more, while Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris, Yomif Kejelcha and their teenage team-mate Selemon Barega will have drawn up a plan titled ‘How to beat Mo’.
Before Farah, there are three gold medals up for grabs tonight. First is the women’s high jump final (7.05pm BST) where the reigning world champion, Mariya Lasitskene – competing as an authorised neutral athlete – will take on Spain’s 38-year-old Olympic champion Ruth Beitia. Australia’s Sally Pearson will go for the second world championship gold of her career in the women’s 100m hurdles final (8.05pm BST) but faces stiff competition from a pack of American talent including the world record holder, Kendra Harrison, before the men’s javelin final (8.15pm BST) where Germany’s Olympic champion Thomas Röhler will be the man to beat.
The men’s decathlon will be in action at various junctures before the evening wraps up with the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay finals (9.30pm BST), and Usain Bolt’s final act. Expect Jamaica and USA to fight for golds should they get the baton round, while Germany have strong teams and Britain have high hopes of snatching a life-affirming fourth. It is all set up for another brilliant night of athletics in London.