Series09 Jun 2021

Japan's seven wonders: World Championships Osaka 2007


Japan's seven wonders - World Championships Osaka 2007 (© Getty Images)


In the latest in our ‘seven wonders’ series, we put the spotlight on the last time Japan hosted the World Athletics Championships – in Osaka in 2007.


Setting the scene

Osaka, Budapest and Berlin all expressed an interest in hosting the 2017 World Athletics Championships. However, after the latter two withdrew their interest before the deadline, Osaka was announced as the host city in Monaco in November 2002.

The championships took place between 25 August and 2 September in the Nagai Stadium. It attracted 1800 athletes from 197 countries.

Broken records

No world records were posted in Osaka but championship records were set in the men’s 200m and women’s steeplechase.

The USA matched their record-breaking haul of 26 medals (last achieved at the 1991 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo) in Osaka, claiming 14 gold medals (equalling their record number of golds also achieved at the 2005 and 2019 editions) to top the medal table.


Headline acts

Allyson Felix was the star of the championships, winning three golds. She emphatically retained her world 200m title and then featured on the USA’s triumphant 4x100m and 4x400m teams – producing a blistering 48.0 leg in the latter event.

One of the other star performers inside the Nagai Stadium was combined events star Carolina Kluft. The Swede banked a hat-trick of world heptathlon titles and did so by setting a European record of 7032 to climb to number two on the world all-time list behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Bernard Lagat became the first man to complete the 1500m and 5000m double at the World Championships with a hugely impressive display of endurance.

The US middle-distance runner bagged the 1500m title by a margin of 0.23 before returning four days later to take out the 5000m title. Lagat edged to the front with 80 metres remaining to repel the challenge of Eliud Kipchoge and complete the unique double.


Home stars

Following the disappointment of Olympic champion Koji Murofushi finishing sixth in the men’s hammer final, it took a brave effort in oppressive heat on the final day by Reiko Tosa in the women’s marathon to ensure Japan would mount the medal podium in Osaka.

At 40km, Tosa was two seconds off a lead group of three, but after Zhu Xiaolin of China rapidly dropped off the pace, Tosa, the world silver medallist six years earlier in Edmonton, advanced to claim a bronze medal.

The Japanese quartet also set an Asian record of 38.03 to take fifth – just 0.13 off the podium – in the men’s 4x100m.

In the men’s marathon, Japanese athletes took fifth through to seventh, led by Tsuyoshi Ogata, who finished 17 seconds shy of the podium.


Talk of the town

The men’s long jump served up one of the most dramatic competitions of the championships.

Long-time leader Irving Saladino was overhauled by Andrew Howe by one centimetre with the Italian’s final jump. However, remaining calm and composed in the most high-pressure of scenarios, the Panamanian responded wonderfully with his final jump to soar out to a South American record of 8.57m and claim a dramatic gold.

Little more than 18 months after first taking up the sport, Donald Thomas of The Bahamas struck gold in the men’s high jump with a 2.35m clearance.

Meanwhile, Kenenisa Bekele secured a hat-trick of world 10,000m titles with a typically dominant display by the Ethiopian endurance king.

The women’s 100m final proved a classic as just 0.04 covered the top five with the gold and silver medallists, respectively, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Lauryn Williams only separated by two-thousandths of a second.

In the women’s discus, Franka Dietzsch, at the age of 39, became the second oldest ever world champion, thr German hurling the discus out to a best of 66.61m for gold.


For the first time, state-of-the-art pole vault mats were used which would drain rain, rather than pools of water forming on the surface. Other innovations introduced in Osaka included a ‘Citizen’s Supporting Association’ which was formed to drum up local interest in the championships. Support included cheerleading for marathon runners.



Generally played out in hot and humid conditions, the 2007 World Championships will be remembered for a record-breaking number of nations climbing the podium – 46 – which still remains a record today.

The war on doping was also stepped up with the number of drug tests for the first time exceeding 1000 (976 in competition and 82 in training camps). These were also the final championships where numbers rather than names appeared on the front of athletes’ bibs.

Steve Landells for World Athletics




















男子4x100mリレーではアジア記録の38.03で5位、これは表彰台まで惜しくも0.13秒で あった。















World Athletics Steve Landells
訳:World Athletics 大久保マイケル拓磨

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