Wed | May 18, 2022

Five of the best men in Beijing

Published:Sunday | September 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 200 metres final at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa crosses the finish line to win the men’s 400m event ahead of David Verburg of the United States and Grenada’s Kirani James at an IAAF Diamond League meet on July 4 in France.
Christian Taylor
Kenya’s Julius Yego celebrates after being the first Kenyan to win gold in the men’s javelin throw final.
United States’ Ashton Eaton celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men’s decathlon in a world record points tally of 9,045 points at the World Championships at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing on Saturday, August 29, 2015.

Approximately 800 men went to Beijing to seek gold medals at the 2015 World Championships last month. Only 22 of them succeeded. An even smaller group of five - Ashton Eaton of America, his compatriot Christian Taylor, Kenyan Julius Yego, Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and Jamaica's incomparable Usain Bolt - produced performances so compelling that they were set apart from the rest.

Bolt spared the sport's blushes with a 0.01 second victory over American Justin Gatlin in the much-anticipated 100 metres. With the 100 competition greasing his wheels, the tall man won the 200-metres more easily with a world-leading run of 19.55 seconds. That's ho-hum for him, but no one but Bolt has ever run faster in World Championships history.

South African van Niekerk arrived in Beijing undefeated at 400 metres and left with the gold medal. Flying through the 200-metre mark in a reported time of 20.7 seconds, he kept going to clock 43.48, with former champions Lashawn Merritt and Kirani James making the final the first race ever with three men under 44 seconds. The American trio of Michael Johnson, Butch Reynolds and Jeremy Wariner are the only men with faster 400-metre times than van Niekerk.




Yego, a stocky Kenyan, launched his javelin further than all but two others in the history of the sport. His winning throw of 92.72 metres missed the meet record by just eight centimetres and gave Kenya their first medal in a World Championships throwing event. The Finland-based Yego is now a superhero at home.

While van Niekerk and Yego were winning World titles for the first time, Taylor regained the triple-jump title he first won in 2011. He did it in style with a towering jump of 18.21 metres. That missed the 20-year-old world and World Championships record of 18.29 by Great Briton Jonathan Edwards by the length of your little finger.

As good as Bolt, van Niekerk, Yego and Taylor were, they all were put in the Beijing shade by Eaton. The American retained his decathlon title with a world record of 9,045 points. Miraculously, it was only the third time the 9,000-point threshold had been broken and Eaton has now done it twice, with two world records.

The high point of Eaton's two-day, 10-event display was a decathlon world best of 45 seconds flat in the 400 metres. That came at the end of a day in which he ran the 100, long jumped, putt the shot and high jumped. It makes you wonder. Maybe he can run 44-flat if he is fresh.