The year of 2007 is meaningful for both Japan and Korea in athletics. For Japan, Osaka held the 11th IAAF World Championships again in this year since Tokyo had hosted Championships 16 years ago. It was also 2007 that Daegu was established as the host city of the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2011.
The Host Venue, Osaka Nagai Stadium, is located in Nagai Park about 10 Km away from centre of Osaka. The stadium first opened in 1964 with a seating capacity of 23,000. The stadium was renovated in 1996 and an additional 27,000 seats were added (50,000 total). The total renovation cost about 400 billion yen, and it was fashioned in such a way that there were no pillars between the seats allowing spectators to watch the event from the perfect vantage no matter what seat they were in.
During the IOC General Assembly in 2001, Osaka failed to host Summer Olympic Games in 2008, thus leading them to bid for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. This was a great opportunity as the city was able to use the existing infrastructure and facilities originally intended for the Olympic Games.
The 11th Osaka Championships turned out to be the largest event ever with 3,200 athletes from 212 member federations participated in a total 47 Events (Men’s 24, Women’s 23).
The event that received the most attention was Men’s 100m. The competition between the Men’s 100m World Record Holder Asafa Powell (JAM) and Gay Tyson (USA) was the most interesting event. The stakes were raised between Powell and Gay after defending Champion, Justin Gatlin (USA) was suspended. Powell was the clear favorite as he had previously beat Gay 5 time in a row prior to the event and held the World Record in the event.
Other events top draw people’s attention were the women’s Pole Vault. The world wondered if
Yelena Isinbaeva (RUS) would be able to break her record as 5.01m she previous set and whether the Men’s 110m Hurdles World Record Holder, Liu Xiang (CHN) would take the first place again.
In the Men’s 100m Final, Gay Tyson took the gold medal, though he was previously defeated five times by Powell. Although he was not able to break Powell’s World Record (9.88sec), he swept gold medal in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. This made him USA’s third double event sprinter after Maurice Green and Justin Gatlin.
Chinese 110m Hurdler, Liu Xiang was also able to take the gold medal in the final in just 12.95s in his first ever appearance in the World Championships. Yelena Isinbaeva was unable to break her world record this time but she secured her spot as World Champion once again.
Kenyan Bernard Lagat (naturalized citizen of United States in 2004) took home gold medals in 1,500m and 5,000m at the event, a rare feat event at the international level. Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu was able to secure the gold medal in Women’s 400m just 40 days after suspension was completed. Discus Thrower, Franka Dietzsch (GER) earned her third World Championship title at the age of 39, making her the oldest athlete ever to win a gold medal in IAAF World Championships.
Meanwhile, it was disappointing to see Maria de Lurdes Mutola (MOZ) fall on the track while she was chasing down the winner Janeth Jepkosgei (KEN) in Women’s 800m Final. Osaka saw the end of an era as Merlene Ottey (SLO), who holds the most Women’s World Championships medals, at the age of 47 failed to proceed to the quarter-final.
The Osaka Championships was a controversial Event due to the extreme heat. Osaka is notorious known for its hot weather and humidity which puts a strain on the athletes. The worst was for the long distance runners who had to endure temperatures of over 40 degrees in the middle of the day.
This was especially true for Luke Kibet (KEN) who was able to take the gold medal in Men’s Marathon in 2:15:59, the slowest time since the first World Championships in 1983. This time was primarily due to the temperature, when he finally reached the Finish Line the temperature was 33 degrees C and humidity approaching 70 percent. Nearly one third of participating
athletes withdrew from the race half way through.
See you next time in 2009 in Berlin, Germany for the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics!