The victorious US men's 4x400m team at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
Ashton Eaton came close in the heptathlon and Ivan Ukhov wasn’t quite at his best in the high jump, but the enthusiastic Sopot crowd were finally rewarded with a world indoor record* in the final event of the championships, the men’s 4x400m.
There had been some talk beforehand that the Jamaican team would be targeting the world indoor record of 3:02.83 that had stood to the USA since the 1999 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Maebashi. But instead it was the USA who was in record-breaking form.
First-leg runner Kyle Clemons caught Britain’s Conrad Williams at the end of the first leg as they both handed over in 45.98. David Verburg then went into the lead, covering his two laps in 45.62.
Kind Butler maintained the momentum with his 45.41 split before handing over to Calvin Smith, who brought the baton home in 45.12, crossing the line in a world indoor record of 3:02.13 to secure the USD $50,000 world record bonus offered by the IAAF.
It should be noted that a US team ran 3:01.96 in 2006, but the time could not be ratified as a world indoor record as the full anti-doping procedure required for ratifying records was not carried out at that meeting.
Great Britain held off Jamaica for the silver medal, clocking 3:03.49 to Jamaica’s national indoor record of 3:03.69.
Less than an hour prior, the US team also struck gold in the women’s 4x400m. They led from the outset with Natasha Hastings handing over to Joanna Atkins in 51.95. Atkins put in a 50.85 split to hand over to Francena McCorory.
The individual 400m champion McCorory clocked 50.36, the fastest of the team, before Cassandra Tate ran the anchor in 51.67.
Their winning time of 3:24.83 was a North American indoor record; a time that has only ever been beaten by Russia.
Jamaica overtook Britain after the half-way stage and went on to take silver with a national indoor record of 3:26.54. Britain, anchored by world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, clocked 3:27.90 – almost a second faster than their winning time in Istanbul two years ago.
Barshim upsets Ukhov
Up until a few weeks ago, Mutaz Essa Barshim wasn’t even considering competing at the World Indoor Championships. Meanwhile, Ivan Ukhov was setting indoor arenas alight with a stunning series of high jump performances.
The Russian Olympic champion was one of the biggest favourites heading into the championships, but his two failures at 2.38m ultimately proved costly. Although he got over that bar on his third try, Barshim had already sailed over at the first time of asking, as he had done with all of his previous heights.
Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko took bronze with a PB of 2.36m with Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard finished outside of the medals with 2.34m.
Pocket Rocket strikes again
After the 60m semi-finals earlier in the afternoon, double world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce looked vulnerable as she was pushed all the way to the line in 7.08 while rival Murielle Ahoure looked comfortable in winning her semi-final in 7.06.
But once the Jamaican nailed the start, there was no catching her. She sped to the line in a world-leading PB of 6.98 to become just the second woman in history, after Veronica Campbell-Brown, to win world titles in the 60m, 100m and 200m.
Ahoure took silver in a season’s best of 7.01 with USA’s Tianna Bartoletta taking bronze in 7.06.
In the last individual track event of the championships programme, the men’s 60m hurdles, Omo Osaghae took USA’s ninth world indoor gold medal in the event. He sped to a lifetime best of 7.45 to edge pre-race favourite Pascal Martinot-Lagarde by one hundredth of a second.
Martinot-Lagarde’s French team-mate Garfield Darien took bronze in 7.47 as Britain’s Andy Pozzi once again finished fourth, clocking a PB of 7.53.
Dibaba duly delivers, Lagat upset by Ndiku
After two world indoor records* and a world indoor best this year, Genzebe Dibaba was perhaps the most talked-about athlete heading into Sopot and she didn’t disappoint.
After a slow first few laps, Dibaba moved up through the field and then wound up the pace in the second half. Covering the last 1500m in 4:04 – a time that would have been good enough for silver in the individual event – she crossed the line in 8:55.04 to win her second world indoor gold medal.
Defending champion Hellen Obiri finished second in 8:57.72 while two-time world 1500m champion Maryam Jamal clocked 8:59.16 for the bronze medal.
Bernard Lagat was the oldest athlete in Sopot. In the men’s 3000m he was also the oldest ever finalist and became the oldest ever medallist in a men’s event at the World Indoors, but he could not quite secure the accolade of oldest ever champion.
Instead, the defending champion was beaten by someone 18 years his junior. Kenya’s 21-year-old Caleb Ndiku took up the running over the final few laps and was never headed, crossing the line in 7:54.94.
Lagat held on for silver in 7:55.22 with Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel taking bronze in 7:55.39.
Aman defends, Price surprises
Ethiopia’s reigning world indoor champion Mohammed Aman bided his time in the 800m, waiting until the closing stages to steal the victory.
Surprise finalist Thijmen Kupers of the Netherlands took the early lead, going through 200m in 28.33 and 400m in 53.29. Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski then took up the running and on the final lap his team-mate Adam Kszczot was right behind him.
The crowd went wild, but their cheers were muted somewhat as Aman forged ahead in the final 50 metres to claim his second successive gold in 1:46.40.
Kszczot took silver in 1:46.76 as Lewandowski crossed the line third, only to be disqualified later for a lane violation. It meant Britain’s Andrew Osagie replicated his bronze medal from two years ago, clocking 1:47.10.
Chanelle Price finished second at the US Indoor Championships, but today she became the world indoor 800m champion after leading from gun to tape.
After covering the first lap in 27.88 seconds and going through 400m in 57.73, it looked as though the other finalists were waiting for Price to fade. But the 2007 world youth finalist maintained her lead through 600m (1:28.91) and desperately held on during the last lap to cross the line in a world-leading 2:00.09.
Poland’s Angelika Cichocka was roared on by the home crowd on the final lap as she came through to take silver in 2:00.45 from Marina Arzamasova (2:00.79).
Gold for Silva
Having taken bronze in Moscow last year and silver at the London Olympics, Cuban pole vaulter Yarisley Silva finally won a global gold medal.
In one of the best quality indoor competitions of all time, 10 women cleared 4.55m, seven vaulted 4.65m and four of those got over 4.70m. But that would be the highest mark of the competition.
Silva’s first-attempt clearance at that height proved crucial and gave her the gold. Jirina Svobodova and Anzhelika Sidorova needed two attempt to clear that height and ended up sharing the silver medal.
World indoor record-holder Jenn Suhr finished down in fifth, tied with home hope Anna Rogowska at 4.65m. 2011 world champion Fabiana Murer cleared 4.70m, but was fourth on count-back.
With the two best long jumpers this winter absent from the final, Ivana Spanovic appeared to be the favourite for gold. But she only led for a matter of minutes as her opening round leap of 6.68m was soon usurped by Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
The young Briton landed at 6.69m on her first attempt, only to see European champion Eloyse Lesueur take the lead with 6.72m. Johnson-Thompson responded with a PB of 6.81m in the second round, which remained the lead until Lesueur’s fourth-round leap of 6.85m.
Spanovic improved to 6.77m in the final round, but she remained in the bronze medal position.
The other horizontal jumps final of the day, the men’s triple jump, was dramatically won in the final round of the competition.
Marian Oprea’s early lead of 17.02m was soon overtaken in the second round by Lyukman Adams (17.21m) and Ernesto Reve (17.33m).
Reve’s mark remained the lead for several rounds but the Cuban had to retire mid-way through the competition after injuring his leg.
Adams, bronze medallist in Istanbul two years ago, seized the moment to attack the lead and flew out to a world-leading 17.37m on his final attempt. Reve’s team-mate Pedro Pablo Pichardo leapt 17.24m in the final round to move into bronze medal position.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
*subject to the usual ratification procedures