Series27 Jul 2019

Fab five: close finishes at the World Championships


Fab five: close finishes at the World Championships (© AFP / Getty Images)

As we continue our countdown to the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, we look at a quintet of memorably tight World Championships finishes.


2003 – men’s 100m

Kim Collins (far right) wins the 100m at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris


Just 0.01 separated the three medallists in a desperately tight finish at the Stade de France in Paris.

In a medal decider with no clear favourite, Kim Collins from St Kitts and Nevis made a blistering start from lane one only to see with advantage steadily eroded in the second half of the race by world U20 champion Darrel Brown of Trinidad & Tobago and Great Britain’s Olympic 200m silver medallist Darren Campbell. In a desperate lunge for the line, Collins, the Commonwealth champion, held on for gold in 10.07 with teenager Brown and Campbell sharing the same time of 10.08, taking the silver and bronze respectively.


2007 – women’s 100m

Veronica Campbell-Brown (far left) on her way to winning the 100m at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka


With just 0.002 seconds separating the gold and silver medallists Lauryn Williams and Veronica Campbell-Brown and just 0.05 spanning the top five, this heart-stopping final in Osaka can lay claim to being one the closest in history.

Williams made the quickest start but Campbell-Brown finished powerfully and nothing appeared to separate the pair as they flashed across the line in an official 11.01. After a long delay, the judges finally gave the verdict to Campbell-Brown of Jamaica. Williams took silver and US compatriot Carmelita Jeter claimed bronze just 0.01 back.


1987 – men’s 400m hurdles

Ed Moses wins the 400m hurdles at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome


A classic battle between three titans of the event.

Earlier that year in Madrid, Edwin Moses had surrendered his incredible winning sequence stretching back 10 years and 122 competitions to Danny Harris and their battle in Rome was eagerly anticipated. Coming off the final bend, the long-striding Moses held a clear three-metre lead from Harris and the German Harald Schmid, who coincidentally had been the last person before Harris to defeat Moses a decade earlier. Gradually Moses’ advantage evaporated but in a thrilling finale he held on for a dramatic win in a championship record of 47.46 – 0.02 clear of both Harris and Schmid, who claimed the minor medals.


1987 – men’s 200m

Calvin Smith (far left) wins the 200m at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome


Calvin Smith mounted a successful defence of his title in Rome thanks to an improbable late surge to move from fifth to gold in the final 50 metres.

Running in lane eight, the US sprinter appeared out of contention as John Regis dominated for much of the race. However, as the muscular Briton tied up in the final few strides, unheralded French sprinter Gilles Queneherve appeared poised for gold only for Smith’s late dive for the line. The top two were credited with the same time of 20.16 – 0.02 ahead of Regis in bronze.


2015 – women’s marathon

Mare Dibaba wins the marathon at the IAAF World Chamionships, Beijing 2015


Four women entered Beijing’s stunning Bird’s Nest Stadium still with chances of striking gold after an an epic 42.2km scrap.

However, in a thrilling finish the 1.51m tall Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia responded to the looming threat of Kenya’s Helah Kiprop to kick clear and land a narrow one-second victory in 2:27:35. A mere seven seconds separated the first four in the closest marathon tussle in World Championships history.

Steve Landells for the IAAF