Countdown461d 13h 35m 19s
World Athletics Championships Oregon22

Series07 Sep 2019

Fab five: home winners at the World Championships


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

As we continue our countdown to the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, we cast our mind back on a quintet of unforgettable moments for the host nation.


Tiina Lillak’s victory in the javelin throw - 1983 World Championships, Helsinki

Tiina Lillak wins the 1983 World Championships


Tiina Lillak delivered the gold medal her passionate home fans craved as her mighty sixth round effort of 70.82m secured a dramatic victory.

The home thrower went into the final as favourite having led the qualifiers but it was Great Britain’s Fatima Whitbread who seized control of the competition courtesy of a first round hurl of 69.14m.

Lillak had sat second from her opening effort but amid an ear-splitting din within the Olympic Stadium more than 50,000 Finnish spectators roared their approval after the spear landed beyond the 70-metre line.


Hiromi Taniguchi’s victory in the marathon - 1991 World Championships, Tokyo

Japanese marathon runner Hiromi Taniguchi


No nation embraces the marathon quite like the Japanese, so it was somehow fitting that on the final day of the championships the host nation delivered over the 42.2km distance thanks to Hiromi Taniguchi.

The race began at 6am in temperatures of 26c and humidity of 73 per cent but Taniguchi – a former London Marathon and Tokyo Marathon winner – coped best with the conditions.

The 31-year-old made his decisive break at 38km before opening up a 29-second winning margin on Ahmed Salah of Djibouti to claim Japanese gold.


French women’s 4x100m relay - 2003 World Championships, Paris

Sylviane Felix (r) hands off to anchor Christine Arron in the 4x100m relay at the 2003 World Championships in Paris


It had already been a memorable day for the host nation following Eunice Barber’s long jump gold and just 20 minutes later France completed their ‘Super Saturday’ with a rip-roaring success in the women’s 4x100m. 

Little had separated France and the USA on time during the qualification and it was expected to be a titanic tussle between the pair in the final, and so it proved.

The US held a slight advantage on the final exchange only for Christine Arron to unleash her trademark blistering relay leg to catch and pass US anchor Torri Edwards and snatch gold by just 0.05 and send the home crowd into ecstasy.


Javelin throw triumph by Steffi Nerius - 2009 – World Championships, Berlin

Germany's Steffi Nerius in the women's javelin at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin


Competing at her eighth World Championship Steffi Nerius finally claimed her first gold and in the perfect scenario did so in front of her adoring home fans.

The German javelinist, who had won bronze at each of the three previous World Championships, produced an inspired competition as her first round throw of 67.30m – the second longest in her career – gave her control of the competition.

Nerius then remained unsurpassed for the remainder of the competition and despite winning gold held firm on her decision to retire at the end of the season.


British men’s 4x100m relay - 2017 – World Championships, London

The victorious British 4x100m relay squad at the 2017 World Championships


In what was supposed to be the final coronation of Usain Bolt’s incomparable career, it was the British Fab Four of CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake who instead took the honours in a drama-rich men’s 4x100m final. 

Bolt took the baton on anchor a distant third behind GB and USA before his career came to the most calamitous finale as he crashed to the track after 30m struck down by severe hamstring cramp.

Mitchell-Blake then held off the charging Christian Coleman by 0.05 as the GB quartet posted a European record of 37.47 to ensure the hosts ended what been a largely disappointing championships on a high.  

Steve Landells for the IAAF