The Osaka World Championships begin in nine days. 8 days of the best track and field athletes on the planet compete in front of 50,000 track fans! Each day will have highs and lows, great competitions, and not so great competitions, and surprises! In this article, the writer relates one of the major surprises in a past World Championships that he attended. In the end, it is all about the competition!
It was not that Kim Batten and Tonja Buford Bailey were not already great intermediate hurdlers, but their final in the World Champs in 1995 was something to remember. Kim Batten and Tonja Buford Bailey were out fast, and by mid race, they were running ahead of the rest of the field.
As they came up to 300 meters, the fans could see that this was going to be a close race. Neither Buford Bailey or Batten would give up. The crowd started getting into the race and the cheering was loud, as Batten got took a very small lead, just before the last hurdle and held on to the finish, breaking the world record of Great Britians’ Sally Gunnell. Their 52.28 (both were given the same time) established a new world record and put the U.S. women as players in the 400 meters intermediate hurdles.
World records are the side effects of a superb competition. In 2003, at the World Championships, the 10,000 meters saw Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie competing over 25 laps. It came down to the last 1,600 meters, with 4:06 over the last four laps, and a sub two minute half over the last two laps. If that was not enough, Bekele, took just over 54 seconds to cover the last lap to take his first win over 10,000 meters at the World Championships. 2001 winner Charles Kamathi was relegated to sixth and Haile added a bronze to his four 10,000 WC victories.
The World championships in Edmonton saw the entire field duped by an injured Haile Gebrselessie, who gently picked up the pace over the last 4,000 meters to the point that there were only two guys left, Charles Kamathi and Haile, with 200 meters to go. In fact, when Kamathi took the lead, he looked back twice to determine if he really was beating the Emperor.
What races will catch our spirits at Osaka? Nine days before we find out!