WRITTEN FOR THE IAAF WEBSITE
Andrew Pozzi whipped the British crowd into a delighted frenzy, as the local athlete stormed to a popular and frantically-tight victory in a dramatic final over the USA’s Jarrett Eaton, for Britain’s first gold medal of the championships.
Flying to a 7.46 season’s best, the 25-year-old European indoor champion follows in the footsteps of world indoor record holder and the 1999 edition winner, Colin Jackson, as his nation’s latest champion in the 60m hurdles event.
The fastest qualifier from both the first round and the semi final stage, Pozzi’s win not only delivers his first world medal but it makes amends for finishing just outside of the podium positions in both the 2014 and 2016 global indoor championships.
Having missed most of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 outdoor seasons through injury, Pozzi failed to make the finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 IAAF World outdoor Championships in London, but based on this winter, he should be confident of adding the Commonwealth title and continental outdoor crown to his athletic resume in the next few months.
The British captain, who was ranked only eighth prior to the event, said afterwards:
“I could see I was behind Jarrett (Eaton) but I was fixated on the (finish) line and had to drive towards it as best I could. To be a world champion in Birmingham makes the achievement tenfold. I’ve grown up here over the last decade – the first competition I ever watched was the trials here 15 years ago.
“My heart stopped at the end, I knew I was behind and I can’t describe how much I wanted it. I was throwing my body at the line and I just about got there.
“These championships have been amazing and to be (British) captain is the biggest honour of my life, and to win is an absolute delight.
“These moments have kept me going (through all of the injuries) – I knew I could come back and get to the very top.”
On winning of the day of Roger Bannister’s death, Pozzi continued:
“Roger was an unbelievable athlete and unbelievable person – I’m very sorry that he has left us and I read one of his quotes today before heading to the track. It said: ‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive.”
In the silver medal position, the USA’s Eaton gained redemption for finishing fourth on home turf in the 2016 edition in Portland with a 7.47 clocking, clear ahead of France’s Aurel Manga, who claimed a surprise bronze with 7.54.
Meanwhile in fourth place, the 110m hurdles world record holder, Aries Merritt registered 7.56 ahead of France’s two-time world indoor runner-up, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde who came home in fifth with 7.68.
Sixth position went to Brazil’s Gabriel Constantino, who clocked 7.71 whilst Roger Iribarne of Cuba finished seventh in 7.77, less than two hours after running a 7.58 lifetime best.
Elsewhere, Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus – who registered a fine 7.51 national record for victory in the semi final stage – was disqualified for a false start.