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Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 19:11 UK

Steve Cram column

Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport commentator

Usain Bolt
Bolt looked almost mortal - rocking and rolling down the home straight, grafting hard, and that made it almost more special

How good were the 12th IAAF World Championships? Very, very good.

Looking back to all the others I've competed in and watched, Berlin is right up there.

The first Worlds in Helsinki were special for the number of world records broken and the context, in an era of Olympic boycotts, and 1993 in Stuttgart was a fantastic championships, but the last nine days are without doubt are the best in the last 16 years.

You need the combination of great atmosphere and big crowds that we've had here, but primarily you need good athletics - you need your big-name favourites to deliver on their talent and break records, and you also need surprise results to add to the mix.

We've had all that and more in Berlin. The big names like Usain Bolt and Kenenisa Bekele produced wonderful performances across the board.

There were the unpredictable defeats for Yelena Isinbayeva, Dayron Robles and Meseret Defar, and great stories like Steve Hooker winning the pole vault despite a leg injury.

Hooker's achievement was remarkable. He was playing a game of poker with his competitors and his own body, and he played the perfect hand. It's like Eminem says - you only get one chance, and you have to take it. Hooker did exactly that.

We also had a host nation that bagged a number of surprise gold medals, a factor that has been missing from the last few Worlds.

Put all those factors together and you have a recipe for a great championships.


The best bit? For what happened in such a short period of time, it had to be Thursday night - Usain smashing his own 200m world record, the women's high jump final gripping the entire stadium, an incredible finish in the sprint hurdles.

It's wrong to say we weren't expecting Bolt to break the world record, but he did look almost mortal - rocking and rolling down the home straight, grafting hard, and that made it almost more special.

The high jump, meanwhile, created an electric atmosphere. When Ariane Friedrich motioned for quiet before attempting 2.04m the stadium went completely silent, the first time I've ever heard that happen, and then when she cleared the bar the noise was incredible.

For Britain it was a better championships than we expected. The two athletes we hoped would deliver, Jess Ennis and Phillips Idowu, both did.

Jenny Meadows' bronze was a great bonus in a race rendered even more dramatic by Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo's elimination in qualifying and the controversy surrounding winner Caster Semenya.

And Lisa Dobriskey ran a fine race on the final afternoon to snatch 1500m silver.

There were some disappointments but by and large it was a good performance. If you'd said before we came here that we'd win six medals, UK Athletics would absolutely have taken that.

And while the sprint relay boys were helped by disqualifications to other teams, that's happened to them in the past too - it evened things out a little.

Ariane Friedrich
Ariane Friedrich gave the Germans something else to cheer about

I hope that UKA head coach Charles van Commenee now looks at the factors that made Jess, Phillips, and Jenny such a success. All three have worked closely with their own coaches in an individual set-up.

We need to build on that type of success, and hopefully Charles can work that into his desire to put everyone into two or three camps. It's something for discussion as we move forward towards 2012.

Finally, we have to thank the host nation. Germany has been a fantastic place for the Worlds, and it confirms the feeling that the championships should go to a nation that loves athletics.

Germany might be struggling on the track at the moment, but they're still world class in the field events, and they have a fantastic history and heritage in the sport.

The Olympiastadion is a big stadium to fill, but it's been great on every night.

And the athletics knowledge you find from everyone around is incredible - the conversations you have are on a different level to the ones in other host nations.

Steve Cram was talking to BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce

see also
GB win two silvers on final day
23 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Athletics World Champs photos
23 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Bekele completes distance double
23 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Jamaica's Bolt takes third gold
22 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Awesome Bolt breaks 200m record
20 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Bolt sets record to win 100m gold
16 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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