Series17 Aug 2019

Fab five: celebrations at the World Championships


Fab five: celebrations at the World Championships (© Getty Images)

As we continue our countdown to the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, we reminisce about five special celebrations from previous editions.


Eamonn Coghlan

Helsinki, 1983

Eamonn Coghlan on the way to winning the 5000m at the 1983 World Championships


Has there has been a cheekier victory celebration in the 36-year history of the World Championships than that of men’s 5000m winner Eamonn Coghlan clenching both his fists in triumph with 150m to go while placed in second?

In truth, the 30-year-old Irishman’s outpouring of emotion was pure relief for an athlete who up until that point had consistently disappointed on the major championship stage.

Coghlan, a master indoor miler, trailed Dmitriy Dmitriyev by nearly 10 metres at the bell but slowly reeled in the Soviet athlete and moments before passing the leader let out his little moment of uncontrolled joy before sprinting away to an emphatic victory.


Robert Harting

Berlin, 2009

Robert Harting, the 2009 world discus throw champion


Robert Harting was justifiably elated to secure gold in front of his adoring home fans.

For the entire competition he had trailed Piotr Malachowski, who set a Polish record of 69.15m in round five, only for the muscular German to hurl the discus out to a PB of 69.43m in round six.

Cue one of the most bizarre celebrations seen in World Championships history, which involved Harting pretending to eat a microphone, ripping open his vest and tossing 'Berlino the Bear' on to his back. Utterly captivating.


Melaine Walker

Berlin, 2009

2009 world 400m hurdles champion Melaine Walker


Melaine Walker had just clocked the second fastest time in history en route to adding the world 400m hurdles title to her Olympic crown from the previous year, so probably deserved better than having her post-race celebration hijacked by Berlino the Bear.

Given a piggy-back ride by the event mascot, who then proceeded to sprint down the back straight, possibly wasn’t the wisest idea as Berlino ran headlong into a hurdles cart, depositing the unfortunate Jamaican on her backside. Walker was thankfully uninjured, although, no doubt, a little embarrassed at the unfortunate post-race mishap.


Ezekiel Kemboi

Daegu, 2011

Dance machine! Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates his steeplechase victory at the 2011 World Championships


As much as Ezekiel Kemboi was a supreme steeplechase champion – he won four consecutive world titles from 2009 and 2015 and two Olympic golds – the mohawk-wearing Kenyan is as much remembered for his exuberant post-race dances.

We could pick any one of his World Championship triumphs for his celebratory craftmanship but we particularly like his 2011 version when after drifting out to lane seven (yes, lane seven) to cross the line in gold, he then busts a move in honour of the great Usain Bolt to light up the Daegu Stadium.


Abel Kirui

Daegu, 2011

Abel Kirui celebrates his marathon victory at the 2011 World Championships


Perhaps what marathon winner Abel Kirui lacked in pure artistic merit for his post-race dance can be best explained by the fact he’d just completed a gruelling 42.2km in warm and humid conditions.

The Kenyan had enjoyed a perfect day, retaining his world marathon title, and doing so by a victory margin of almost two-and-a-half minutes.

After he crossed the line, Kirui said he suddenly had the feeling he wanted to dance, although as the ever-smiling athlete admitted: “As you can see, I danced more with my arms because my legs were tired.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF