DAEGU, South Korea - Yelena Isinbayeva extended her string of failures at major events on Tuesday, going under the pole vault bar on her final attempt while trailing five of her rivals for gold at the world championships.
When the Russian was packing up her bag, Fabiana Murer of Brazil added the outdoor world title to the indoor championship only one year before the London Olympics.
Murer set a South American record of 4.85 metres to beat Martina Strutz, who set a German record of 4.80. Svetlana Feofanova gave Russia bronze with a height of 4.75.
"I lost again," Isinbayeva said. "The Olympic year is more important. I was just unlucky."
Still, it left her without a medal for three straight global championships after a run of seven straight golds in Olympics and world outdoor and indoor competitions.
"I will delete everything in my memory before I go to the Olympics," Isinbayeva said.
Murer, instead, will cherish every moment.
"I expected it to be more competitive, but many athletes went out early," the Brazilian said. "It is a lot of psychology because we have a bar to clear."
In the 800 metres, world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya beat rival Abubaker Kaki of Sudan to win his first world title with yet another dominating performance. It was the 32nd straight race he has won in the last two years.
In a thrilling 400 final, Kirani James of Grenada fought from behind to beat favourite LaShawn Merritt of the United States at the line, and Robert Harting of Germany extended his domination of the men's discus. Also, Tatyana Chernova of Russia ended the reign of Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, coming from behind to take gold.
But in front of 40,000 fans at Daegu Stadium, nothing could match another implosion by Isinbayeva.
Imperial despite recent performances to back it up, the two-time Olympic champion got into the competition last when others were already fighting for survival at a height of 4.65 metres.
It turned out to be the only mark she would clear, only a slight improvement over her no-height performance at the worlds in Berlin two years ago, starting a spiral of decline. She took a one-year break after losing to Murer at last year's indoor championships, hoping to come back stronger in Daegu.
It didn't matter.
"Everything was ready for a victory, but I do not know what went wrong," Isinbayeva said.
When she used to go into a huddle, covered by blankets or towels to concentrate, her competitors used to fail. Now, oblivious to the reclining former world champion, they went higher and higher, leaving the Russian behind.
After Isinbayeva first missed at 4.75 metres, her rivals kept scaling the bar, forcing her into two attempts at 4.80 to even have a shot at the title. She failed.
Along with Chernova, Yuliya Zaripova put some balm on Russia's wound by winning the steeplechase ahead of Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia.
In the heptathlon, Chernova made the difference in the javelin early in the day, when the Russian's season best throw of 52.95 metres contrasted sharply with Ennis' 39.95.
In the concluding 800, Chernova knew she could lose nine seconds to the Briton, but with a great finishing kick almost beat the hard-charging Ennis at the tape.
It left the Russian with a total of 6,880 points, compared to 6,751 for Ennis. Jennifer Oeser of Germany took bronze with 6,572.
"It was so easy for me. It was a great end of the year and will help me prepare for the Olympics with the sense that I am a winner," Chernova said. "It strengthened the spirit and, if I can win over Jessica here, it can give me confidence for the future."
Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., finished ninth with 6,268 points, the best-ever Canadian finish in the seven-discipline event at a world championship.
"I have it in me to get on the podium I just need to put it all together in one consistent heptathlon," Zelinka said. "That is the most important thing I am taking away from this.”
Ruky Abdulai of Coquitlam, B.C., was 13th with 6,212 points.
Over the past two years, Ennis won gold in the multi-event indoor and outdoor world championships and at the European championships. She was counting on another outstanding performance for a boost of confidence ahead of her home Olympics in London next year.
"It was always going to be tough this year and will be tougher next year," Ennis said.
Instead, it was the 23-year-old Chernova who won her first major title.
At the halfway mark in the competition, the United States leads the medal standings with four gold and eight overall, ahead of Kenya and Russia with three gold among their eight medals.