British co-captain wins a close hurdles contest to claim a first global gold back in Birmingham
Andrew Pozzi won his first world 60m hurdles title in style in a close contest on the final day of IAAF World Championships action in Birmingham.
Despite hitting one of the hurdles, he recovered superbly and began to close the gap on US champion Jarret Eaton to huge roars from the home crowd. A perfectly executed dip on the line saw him snatch gold from the American by 0.01.
Almost a metre back, France’s Aurel Manga got the bronze ahead of USA’s 2012 Olympic champion and world 110m hurdles record-holder Aries Merritt, who did well to get fourth after progressing as a fastest loser from the semi-final.
“I can’t describe how much I wanted it; I threw everything at the line hoping to get there and I just about got there,” said Pozzi, who had experienced a nervous wait as the race came down to a photo finish.
“I could see I was behind Jarret but I was fixated on the line and had to drive towards it as best I could.”
Having grown up in the nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, it meant even more that Pozzi was able to secure success in front of a passionate home crowd.
“To be a world champion in Birmingham makes the achievement tenfold,” he said. “I’ve grown up here over the last decade. The first competition I ever watched was the trials here 15 years ago.
“These championships have been amazing and to be captain for these championships is the biggest honour of my life. Every member of this team has been perfect and I’m delighted I could do it.”
“I’m so happy that I could deliver and do my bit for the championships.”@andrew_pozzi talks about winning world indoor 60mH gold and doing so in front of a Birmingham crowd, back in the stadium where he was inspired as a 10-year-old watching the 2003 World Indoors #IAAFWorlds pic.twitter.com/dn1xTyjFEP
— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) March 5, 2018
The European indoor champion had been fourth in this event in both 2012 and 2014 but went into the event this year ranked only ninth.
Having done no better than making the semi-finals in the last two big outdoor championships, some were querying whether he could make a mark in a global event. He proved he could and things looked rosier after the opening heat which he won in 7.53, which was clearly the quickest of the round, with Eaton and Milan Trajkovic equal second best on 7.56.
They looked even better after the semi-final, just over 90 minutes before the final. Pozzi looked majestic as he improved his earlier season’s best to 7.46 and he now had a big margin on the next best Trajkovic, who set a Cypriot record of 7.51. Eaton was less convincing, running just 7.58 and was only sixth best.
In the final, there was drama when Trajkovic false started.
At the second running, Pozzi got a reasonable reaction time of 0.143 but he clearly trailed Eaton, who went into the event top-ranked with 7.43 as the American reacted sharpest with a 0.143.
Pozzi looked like he was closing in but then hit the third hurdle hard and appeared to lose momentum.
After recovering he was still down on Eaton but got closer on the fourth and then even nearer on the fifth and final, helped by Eaton hitting it hard. He was still behind, but a perfectly executed dip on the line meant Pozzi had equalled his semi-final time and got the gold.
The crowd responded with a football-style “POZZI, POZZI” chant when the result was announced.
“In every interview I have said I was in good shape but I came in ranked 10th or 11th in the world,” said the winner. “But in training I have been running 7.4s so I just had to remain confident that it would happen in competition. I knew it was coming but I knew it would be so competitive.”
Pozzi’s team-mate David King made his exit in the semi-finals with a 7.70 clocking for sixth place.
» See the March 8 issue of AW for full coverage from the IAAF World Indoor Championships