International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe would have hoped for a deluge of eyebrow-raising moments at these World Championships.

While some of the athletic performances have been below the standard one might have expected, he was not disappointed in other cases.

We saw Kenyan runner Beatrice Chepkoetch missing the first water jump in the 3,000 metres steeplechase last night.

We witnessed Bahamian Olympic gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo stumble barely 20 metres from the line when victory in the women’s 400m seemed assured.

And who can forget Justin Gatlin, who has served two drugs bans, upstaging Usain Bolt in his individual 100m swansong a week ago and all the boos that followed.

The IAAF President has claimed that doping was not athletics’ main problem but "remaining relevant" post-Bolt, whose career has drawn comparisons with Muhammad Ali and is due to come an end today in the 4x100m relay. 

Coe's comments came on the eve of IAAF Congress here where the main topic on the agenda was Russia and whether the country had done enough to be allowed back from the wilderness following allegations of state-supported doping. 

Coe may have gone about it the wrong way but the point he was trying to make about athletics' future in that ill-judged soundbite is a valid one.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe claimed remaining relevant in the years following the retirement of Usain Bolt was a bigger challenge for athletics than doping ©Getty Images
IAAF President Sebastian Coe claimed remaining relevant in the years following the retirement of Usain Bolt was a bigger challenge for athletics than doping ©Getty Images

The IAAF and athletics fans have long wondered what the sport does without its iconic talisman, or as BBC commentator Steve Cram once put it, its "saviour". 

South African Wayde van Niekerk had been cast by many as the heir apparent to Bolt before this event, even by Coe himself. "At a time when we have Usain Bolt about to take his final curtain, he is the sort of athlete we need," Coe wrote in a column published in the Evening Standard  about Van Niekerk before he was beaten in the 200m by Azerbaijan-born Turkish athlete Ramil Guliyev.

He, though, neither possesses the charisma - he comes across as a genuinely affable character, for the record - nor is he as marketable as the main he is supposedly in line to replace. Not yet anyway.

Van Niekerk is a superbly talented and brilliant athlete. No-one disputes that. But it takes that little extra touch of magic, of pizzazz to be cast as the sport’s poster boy.

Another attraction of the sport, besides from household names which the likes of football have in abundance, is the rivalry it creates, according to Coe.

Van Niekerk was central to this. After the Gatlin v Bolt saga, his eagerly-anticipated 200m duel with Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, perhaps the most memorable figure from these Championships, became the headline act. Yet even that felt manufactured.

Makwala, for all his ability, is a 400m runner by trade - as, in fairness, is Van Niekerk. Because Makwala was prevented from competing in the 400m final due to suffering from the norovirus, It became a much bigger battle than it would normally have been. 

Wayde van Niekerk has been tasked with following in the footsteps of Usain Bolt ©Getty Images
Wayde van Niekerk has been tasked with following in the footsteps of Usain Bolt ©Getty Images

As part of their post-event assessment, the IAAF and Coe will ponder the future. To coin his phrase, did London 2017 do enough to ensure athletics remains relevant?

On the plus side, the attendance throughout the week was excellent, particularly for this morning’s session, with more than 700,000 have attended the event since it opened on August 4. 

But the IAAF should enjoy it while it lasts. 

The chances of such big and knowledgeable crowds watching the 2019 World Championships in Doha are as slim as my chances of winning tomorrow’s 50 kilometres race walk.

The duration of the Championships has also been a talking point. By stretching the event over 10 days, organisers and the IAAF have been able to prolong the coverage, ensuring it is shown on television screens worldwide for a longer period of time.

That comes at a cost, however. The schedule appeared diluted after Farah’s opening night triumph and the Gatlin-Bolt clash 24 hours later and eventually people become tiresome of constant live sport on their television screens. Even the Olympics suffer that particular fate.

Every day of competition has been watched by a huge crowd inside the Olympic Stadium ©Getty Images
Every day of competition has been watched by a huge crowd inside the Olympic Stadium ©Getty Images

Another area of improvement is the notion of "Sportainment" and how the competition out on the field of play is presented. I had a brief stint away from the athletics to attend the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna and the differences are striking.

In the Austrian capital, the end of every point was greeted by loud, pumping dance music which the crowd relentlessly clapped along to. The engagement with the boisterous audience was also notable, something which has been lacking here.

Of course, it would be naïve to think the atmosphere at a beach volleyball event could be replicated at an athletics meeting. But elements of it could certainly be incorporated.

Here we have had the corny “kiss cams” and dance-offs but they don’t create the energetic environment athletics chiefs are hoping for. These are more cringeworthy than creative.

In a way, London has also been the victim of its own Olympic success. Promoting the World Championships as the chance to recapture the spirit and joy which encapsulated the country five years ago was a mistake; athletics was never going to be able to do that single-handedly.

Still, supporters who attended in their droves will have their moments to cherish.

They will remember Farah and the others who lit up the venue with their performances this week.

They will also remember the stories; Makwala, Miller-Uibo and a moment of madness from Chepkoetch.

But most of all, they will remember Bolt. 

Now the quest for relevance without him begins.