Russia tops medal table at World Athletics Championships

The 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow saw a full stadium during its eighth and final day, pushing away disagreements concerning Russia’s “gay propaganda law.” Russia topped the medal table with seven gold, four silver, and six bronze medals.

The international sporting event was held at Luzhniki Stadium from August 10-18. Nearly 2,000 track and field athletes from 206 countries gathered for the competition. 

The US came in second place at the event, receiving six gold, 13 silver, and six bronze medals. Jamaica placed third, with its athletes earning six gold, two silver, and one bronze.  

Image from iaaf.org

The president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack, thanked Moscow for hosting the championships, officially closing the event on Sunday.

On the last day of the event, Usain Bolt – the Jamaican sprinter widely regarded as the fastest person ever - followed up on wins in the 100- and 200-meter races, winning a gold medal in the relay. His victories earned him the title of the most successful athlete in world championship history. 

Jamaica's Usain Bolt in the men's 4x100m final relay race at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow on August 18, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Two-time Olympic champion Elena Isinbaeva, who holds 28 records for women’s pole vaulting, capped her glittering career with success on Tuesday. She accepted the gold medal as cries of "Elena! Elena!” echoed around the stadium. This may be the Russian's last major championship final, as the 31-year-old athlete has said she wants to take a break to start a family.

The competition was held amid controversy brought about by a recently adopted Russian law which bans the propaganda of homosexuality to minors.

The law sparked concern from the international LGBT community, which has called for pressure to be applied to the Russian government. Some political and public figures have urged for a boycott of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, fearing the law could be used against participants. (link)

At least two women athletes competing in the Moscow championships painted their fingernails the colors of the LGBT rainbow flag, in an attempt to showcase their support for gay rights. However, Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro was forced to repaint her nails after being told by the IAAF that her actions were in violation of the code of conduct at the world championships.

General secretary of the Swedish athletics federation, Anders Albertsson, agreed with the IAAF’s stance on the issue.

“The code of conduct clearly states the rules do not allow any commercial or political statements during the competition,” Albertsson said, as quoted by AFP.

Russian pole vault gold medallist Isinbaeva caused a stir in the media after criticizing Green Tregaro’s action. The athlete expressed her opinion on the promotion of non-traditional sexual orientation in public, which some considered to be anti-gay.

She later apologized, claiming she was “misunderstood.” She added that she was opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals.

Many of the world championship athletes will soon return to Russia for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which will take place in February 2014.

IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 18, 2013. (AFP Photo / Adrian Dennis)