Moscow: Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko's display of steely gamesmanship paid off handsomely as he dominated the men's high jump at the World Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Bondarenko confirmed his staggering seasonal form with a well-timed path to gold ahead of Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, who claimed silver at 2.38m on countback from Canada's Derek Drouin.
In a competition filled with high drama in front of an almost-capacity crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium on the coolest evening of the worlds, the jumpers delivered a great spectacle of high-quality that ended with a world record bid.
"I was fighting with the bar, not with my rivals," Bondarenko said, explaining that he had been partly forced into what he called "adventurism" by a foot injury that prevented him from jumping as much as he might have liked in the competition.
"I knew I had to jump high and I did it. I'm sure I'm capable of setting the new world record sooner or later and I hope it will be pretty soon."
Russia's European champion Aleksandr Shustov opened up by sailing over 2.29m along with Guowei Zhang of China.
Drouin was first over 2.32m, but the Kazakhstan-born Shustov and Barshim failed at their first attempts.
Local favourite was Russia's Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, who sailed over with the vociferous massed support of local fans behind him.
Ukhov was joined by Olympic silver medallist Eric Kynard of the United States, and Barshim and Donald Thomas of the Bahamas at the second time of asking, and Shustov at the third.
But Britain's Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz and Zhang both bailed out at the height, Bondarenko passing in a first bold move of gamesmanship.
Sporting one red and one yellow shoe, the Ukrainian came back in 2.35m and cleared it easily to up the pressure on his opponents.
And they lapped it up, Barshim and then Ukhov going clear to roars from the crowd. Shustov was left prone on the floor with hands on his head after failing three times at 2.35m.
Drouin was the first clear at 2.38m, followed by Barshim, but it proved to be too high for Ukhov, one of whose previous claims to fame was a huge YouTube hit of him performing in a competition while drunk.
Bondarenko daringly skipped 2.38m, and watched as Drouin then failed at 2.41m to leave the latter with bronze in a new national record.
The towering Ukrainian just clipped the bar on his first effort at 2.41m, just his third jump of the night, to up the drama.
A large Ukrainian contingent in the crowd, dressed in the national blue and yellow, were on their feet shortly after as Bondarenko cleared 2.41m to put himself in pole.
The bar was raised to 2.44m, just 1cm short of Cuban Javier Sotomayor's world record of 2.45m set back in 1993, for Barshim and Bondarenko, the two best jumpers in the world this season, in the game for gold.
Barshim went close with his two attempts but came up short, assuring Bondarenko of topping the podium.
The Ukrainian had no hesitation about what to do next: put the bar up to 2.46m for a world record attempt.
He demanded no crowd participation on his first attempt, an eerie silence gripping the stadium as he went close.
It was more of the same on his second attempt, also narrowly missed as his buttocks grazed the bar.
A third effort didn't come close, but that did not stop the Ukrainian's exuberant celebrations.
Barshim was left "satisfied with the performance and the silver medal".
"The stronger the competition on the field, the better the result," the Qatari said.
"I'm happy to be part of it. It feels good because we're pushing each other."