Laura Muir finished sixth in the women’s 1500m final as Faith Kipyegon claimed her third World Championships gold in dominant fashion in Budapest.
An emotional Muir, winner of world bronze last year, faded to finish in three minutes 58.58 seconds after the most challenging year of her career.
Kenya’s world record holder Kipyegon appeared in control throughout, taking victory in 3:54.87.
Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji was second with Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan third.
Britons Katie Snowden (3:59.65) and Melissa Courtney-Bryant (4:03.31) placed eighth and 12th respectively.
Kipyegon has proven untouchable this year, setting three world records over as many distances.
The two-time Olympic champion led from the front, controlling proceedings at a comfortable pace when compared to that of her world record time of 3:49.11 set in June.
But that all changed in the closing stages, with the 29-year-old displaying her class and superiority as she effortlessly left her rivals behind with an injection of pace.
British team captain Muir’s medal bid faltered over the final 200m as Welteji got closest to Kipyegon and Hassan claimed bronze after recovering from her dramatic fall as she battled for 10,000m gold on Saturday.
Muir unable to match bronze after rollercoaster year
By her own admission, 2023 has been a “rollercoaster” for Muir and far from the distraction-free build-up she would have ideally liked before her latest bid to make a global podium.
The Olympic silver medallist unexpectedly split with long-term coach Andy Young in March, walking out of a training camp alongside team-mate Jemma Reekie after a falling out.
The uncertainty which followed led to an inconsistent season in which Muir lost her British title – although she did hint at a return to form when breaking Zola Budd’s 38-year British mile record in July.
Last year’s gritty third place behind Kipyegon and Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia was deserved reward for the tenacious Scot, who had narrowly missed out on a medal at the previous three world finals by finishing fifth, fourth and fifth.
But there was to be no repeat of last year’s podium at the end of a turbulent season – although she previously stated she already felt like a winner following significant change away from the track.
“I thought I positioned myself for the race, I was covering moves but that last lap was crazy,” Muir told BBC Sport.
“It’s another one of those crazy finals but I feel like I won even before I came into this race because I’m happy,” she added, taking a moment to compose herself.
“It’s been hard and I can’t thank the number of people who’ve supported me, it’s been amazing.”
Acknowledging team-mates Snowden and Courtney-Bryant’s efforts, she added: “These two have done great and I am so proud of them. The only nation to have three athletes in the final.
“I’m proud of my performance and I gave it everything I could today. It’s been hard but I’m excited for the future.”
Gold a fitting end to Kipyegon’s remarkable season
It was in her final pre-championship 1500m race before Budapest that Kipyegon broke the world record, leaving Muir a distant second at the Florence Diamond League.
In a remarkable season, the Kenyan also set a 5,000m record of 14:05.20 one week later in Paris, before going on to clock 4:07.64 to smash Hassan’s mile mark in July, leaving her as one of the standout favourites in Budapest.
“I wanted to run my race,” said Kipyegon. “We are all strong in the final. The ladies were very strong and I was pushing this race to that limit.
“These days in the 1500m, if you want to win [you must run] 3:55 and below.”
Hassan, who set out to challenge for three golds at these championships, ensured she will take a medal home after she was left empty-handed in a late coming together with Tsegay over 10,000m – with the 5,000m, which Kipyegon will also contest, to come.
Hudson Smith impresses with record as Tamberi entertains
Arguably the most popular champion crowned on day four was Italian Gianmarco Tamberi, who received passionate support throughout as he claimed his first high jump world title.
Tamberi shared Olympic gold with Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim but he got the better of the three-time reigning champion, who had to settle for bronze, as he put on a show for his raucous supporters and took victory by virtue of his first-time clearance over 2.36m.
Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith cruised to victory in his men’s 400m semi-final, setting a personal best and European record in 44.26 seconds.
That was despite the 28-year-old appearing to ease off with his rivals comfortably behind and saw him qualify second-fastest for Thursday’s medal race, after Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas pulled up with injury.
British team-mate Cindy Sember qualified for the semi-finals of the women’s 110m hurdles heats with a fourth-place finish in 12.83 secs.
Nigerian world record holder Tobi Amusan, permitted to compete after she was found not to have broken anti-doping rules over missed tests, also qualified by winning her heat in 12.48.
Three Britons progressed automatically from their respective men’s 800m heats, with Max Burgin (1:45.43) and Ben Pattison (1:46.57) both placing second and Daniel Rowden (1:45.67) third.
However, Jessie Knight was unable to progress in the women’s 400m hurdles, finishing fourth in 54.51 in her semi-final.
Femke Bol, the firm gold medal favourite in that event, took a comfortable victory in 52.95 in her heat, easing off in the latter stages and qualifying second-fastest for the final behind American Shamier Little (52.81).
Elsewhere, American Laulauga Tausaga smashed her personal best by four metres to stun Olympic discus champion Valarie Allman.
Tausaga’s 69.49m throw with her sixth and final attempt saw her leap up the standings, the 25-year-old sprinting to the stands to embrace her coach in celebration.