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 on the men's side at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018.
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 1999 edition winner Colin Jackson as Britons to have taken the title in the event.
Pozzi’s win not only delivers his first world medal but it also makes amends for finishing just outside of the podium positions in both the 2014 and 2016 World 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.
“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,” said the British team captain, who was the fastest qualifier in both the first round and semi-final stage. “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.”
Pozzi also commented on the day’s passing of athletics legend Roger Bannister.
“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.
The 110m hurdles world record holder Aries Merritt registered 7.56 to finish fourth 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 while Roger Iribarne of Cuba finished seventh in 7.77, less than two hours after running a 7.58 lifetime best.
Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus, who clocked a fine 7.51 national record for victory in his semi, was disqualified for a false start.