16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 - Day Ten (© Getty Images)
The 2017 World Championships in London are being hailed as one of the best sporting events ever. Good racing, an expert British crowd and an entertaining mascot are just some of the reasons behind this claim.
Just like the 2012 Summer Olympics, London hosted the World Athletics Championships five years later. Both events were a huge success in the British capital, which can also be attributed to the love of sport among the locals. A full house was guaranteed for every evening session at the 60,000-seat London Olympic Stadium.
London was the first city to host both the World Championships for able-bodied and para-athletes. This meant that over 3 300 athletes from more than 200 countries competed over the 20 days of the two events. For the World Championships, the organisers managed to sell more than 705 000 tickets, a Guinness World Record, which, together with the World Para Athletics Championships, which took place in the same city shortly afterwards, led to a total of 1 000 000 tickets being sold.
According to a study published after the World Championships, the economic impact of the event was £107 million for the UK economy. In a poll for the study, 45% of people surveyed said that the World Champs had made them more active.
The London World Champs also took over social media, with the official hashtag of the event being used 1.6 billion times. In many cases, the posts were not about the races, but about the mascot who revolutionised on-site entertainment between races. Hero, the hedgehog's actions are still on YouTube today: with cocktailing in an inflatable flamingo in the moat, tumbling down the grandstand steps, tricking commentators, he has become one of the event’s heroes with a series of entertaining gags.
The others, of course, were found on the stage. The principal among them was Usain Bolt, who competed in the last major world champs of his career in London. The Jamaican legend retired from professional sport with a bronze medal in the 100 metres.
Three of the 16-member Hungarian team performed fantastically: Anita Márton won silver in the shot put, Balázs Baji won bronze in the 110 m hurdles to become the first Hungarian to stand on the podium at a World Championships in running, and Máté Helebrandt finished 6th in the 50 km racewalking with a Hungarian record.
In the heptathlon fledgling Xénia Krizsán finished 9th, while Luca Kozák and Bence Halász, the two silver medallists of the 2022 European Championships, were also among the best. Viktória Madarász, our bronze medallist in the 35-kilometre racewalking at this year's European Championships, set a new Hungarian record in the 20-kilometre event at the 2017 World Championships.
Alongside Bolt, the biggest stars of the World Championships were Allyson Felix, Almaz Ayana, Dafne Schippers, Mo Farah and Wayde Van Niekerk, but it's also worth mentioning the only world record holder Ines Henriques, who broke the world record in the women's 50 km racewalk. There were not many broken race records either, with Emma Coburn improving on the world record in the women's 3000 m steeplechase and Yohann Diniz in the men's 50 km racewalk.
It was no coincidence that Usain Bolt, the fastest man of all time, with eight Olympic and 11 world titles, looked set to leave a void in athletics that no one would fill for a long time.
But now we can see that there is no need to worry, because the 2023 World Championships in Budapest will also have stars worth coming to the National Athletics Centre for.