The world record sprint double by track and field legend Usain Bolt in Berlin in 2009, has been voted by fans as the “greatest moment” in World Championships history.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the World Athletics Championships, fans from all around the world were asked to vote for the greatest moments from the past four decades of championship action.
Thousands of fans took part, and they chose Bolt’s record-breaking performance at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin as the top moment in the 40-year history of the event.
The countdown of the 40 greatest World Championships moments began on June 30 and continued on July 6 and July 13.
World Athletics has now revealed its top 10 moments with the lanky Jamaican sitting at the top of the pile after all the votes have been counted.
Of note is that 20 different countries from all six continental areas are represented in the top 40. Moments from all 18 past editions of the World Championships feature in the countdown.
According to World Athletics, “think of Usain Bolt and you probably think of Berlin. That is where his glorious, fabled career reached top speed”.
It said “Bolt’s world record double takes sprinting into the stratosphere (2009, Berlin)”
World Athletics noted the following:
Defending champion Tyson Gay had arrived as the fastest man over 100m in 2009 with a timing of 9.77, a US record. On the big day he bettered that with 9.71, the third-fastest time ever. But after Bolt had moved marginally clear by 20 metres the US sprinter was destined to become a distant silver medallist as his rival floated ever further out of range to clock – gasp! – 9.58.
Bolt’s third successive 100m world record took more than a tenth of a second off the mark he had set in electrifying the Beijing 2008 Olympics with victory in 9.69. That win was marked by a little celebratory chest-beating before the line, leaving many to question how much faster Bolt could go if he concentrated all the way. Now they knew.
The statisticians claimed that, according to the normal rate of progression, his time was 20 years ahead of schedule. Fourteen years on, nobody has got significantly close to it.
Four days later, Bolt lined up for the final of what he always said was his preferred distance – the 200m. Gay, who had clocked the world’s best time of the year, 19.58, was unable to defend his second title from Osaka after hurting his groin during the 100m final.
While there would be no second part to the hyped rivalry, it meant, perhaps, that Bolt was more free to concentrate on his own performance. Which turned out to be stupendous.
Never can this natural showman have been more serious about a race. From gun to tape he was intent, concentrated, driven. When he crossed the line there was a genuine sense of shock at what he had achieved. He might even have felt a little of it himself.
This was serious business for a man who has always loved the challenge of running the bend.
Thirteen years earlier, Michael Johnson had run a huge world record of 19.32 to earn Olympic gold in the 1996 Atlanta Games – a record they said would stand for the ages.
It had lasted until 2008, when Bolt won the Olympic title in Beijing in 19.30.
Now he had taken another massive chunk out of that mark. How long will it last?
The top 10 moments in World Championships history is rounded out by:
10: Sifan Hass of the Netherlands for her performances in Doha, 2019.
9: Michael Johnson for his outstanding 400m record of 43.13 at Seville, 1999.
8: Carl Lewis for his collection of three gold medals from the inaugural championships in Helsinki, 1983.
7: Yulimar Rojas who has now won three consecutive triple jump titles.
6: Mo Farah of Great Britain for his double 5000m 10,000m triumph at the 2013 Moscow Championships.
5: Allyson Felix for stoutly defending her 200m title at Osaka, 2007, in the face of a relentless challenge from Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown while going on to win three titles at the championships.
4: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, regarded as the greatest female sprinter of all time is slotted in at number four for winning the sprint double in Moscow in 2013.
3: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is third on the list for her stupendous world record run of 50.68 at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
2: Renaud Mondo’s world record vault of 6.21m at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, was voted by fans as the second best moment in championship history. The Swede has been breaking and setting world records in the pole vault since 2020.