MOSCOW (Reuters) - The men’s 100 meters final is the centerpiece of the athletics world championships and Sunday’s race in Moscow, the 14th edition since the competition began in 1983, will again be the focal point of the week with Usain Bolt the hot favorite.
Just as in the Olympic Games, the world 100m has produced stories of magnificent achievement, amazing drama and dispiriting drugs bans. Below is a look at 30 years of action:
The first world championships took place in a very different sporting and political world from today, evidenced by the fact that four of the top five nations in the medal table that year - the Soviet Union, East and West Germany and Czechoslovakia - no longer exist.
Having boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games and seen Trinidadian Hasely Crawford (1976) and the USSR’s Valery Borzov (1972) take the previous two Olympic titles, the first world championships was a chance for the United States to reassert its dominance.
American Calvin Smith entered the event fresh from breaking Jim Hines’s 15-year old world record but he was outclassed by Carl Lewis who triumphed in 10.07. Smith took silver ahead of Emmit King in an American clean sweep.
One second round heat had a bizarre false start triggered by the alarm sounding on the watch of Ben Johnson. The Canadian was to make a more memorable impact in the next edition.
Still a four-yearly event, the Rome event was eagerly awaited as Lewis, who had added the 1984 Olympic title to his resume, went head to head with Johnson, who had beaten him three times the previous year.
In a memorable final Johnson exploded from the blocks to virtually seal the race in the first 10 meters, powering home in a world record 9.83.
A year later Johnson, having done the same thing in the Olympic final, tested positive for drugs and was retrospectively disqualified from the Rome placings.
Lewis was awarded the gold, with Jamaica’s Ray Stewart and Briton Linford Christie promoted to the minor medals.
An astonishing final saw the first six finishers break 10 seconds and another U.S. clean sweep of the medals.
Just as in 1983, Lewis entered in the wake of a world-record breaking compatriot after Leroy Burrell had lowered it to 9.90 two months earlier but once again prevailed when it mattered.
Lewis broke the record again to triumph in 9.86, ahead of Burrell, whose 9.88 was also inside his old world best. Dennis Mitchell took silver in 9.91 while Canadian Bruny Surin could finish only eighth with a time of 10.14 that would have given him silver eight years earlier.
By now a bi-ennial event, the Stuttgart final contained six of the eight men from Tokyo but this time it was 33-year-old Christie who won it in 9.87.
Americans filled the next three places but for once Lewis was out of the medals in fourth, behind Mitchell (bronze) and Andre Cason.
Donovan Bailey restored some pride to Canadian athletics when he triumphed in 9.97 - paving the way for his world record setting victory in the Olympics the following year - with compatriot Surin second.
Trinidad’s Ato Boldon took bronze with Mike Marsh’s fifth place representing America’s worst showing in the 30 years of the championships.
This was the first of a hat-trick of titles for Maurice Greene as the tongue-lolling, head-rolling American won in 9.86 from Bailey and another American Tim Montgomery, who would later go on to join the long list of shamed sprinters.
Greene had taken a huge chunk out of the world record when running 9.79 two months before the championships and produced the next-best legal time when taking gold in Spain in 9.80. Surin took his second silver with Briton’s 21-year-old drug-cheat-in-waiting Dwain Chambers collecting an unexpected bronze.
In a tense final featuring three false starts, Greene’s impressive 9.82 run into a headwind led the first American sweep for a decade. However, Montgomery, who finished a fast-finishing second, was disqualified three years later after being found guilty of doping violations, with his 2002 world record of 9.78 also annulled.
Bernard Williams was promoted to silver, with Boldon getting a belated bronze.
Greene’s bid for a fourth successive triumph ended with an injury in the semi-finals, opening the door for surprise winner Kim Collins to become a national hero of St Kitts and Nevis.
A rare winner from the inside lane, his 10.07 was just enough to edge a blanket finish with Trinidad’s Darrel Brown and Briton Darren Campbell both timed at 10.08.
Justin Gatlin added the world title to his 2004 Olympic gold but it was a victory clouded by his later double-suspension for doping. Unlike Johnson and Mitchell, his results of this period were allowed to stand and the American is back in Moscow this week.
Michael Frater of Jamaica and Collins took the minor medals while an 18-year-old Bolt finished last in the 200m final after suffering a hamstring injury.
Eight different nationalities lined up in the final but it was the United States leading them home again as Tyson Gay triumphed in 9.85.
Asafa Powell went into the race as the new world record holder (9.77) but in the first of what turned out to be many failures on the big stage, the Jamaican faded to finish third behind Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas.
Bolt had become a world superstar on the back of his exploits at the Beijing Olympics a year previously but Berlin proved to be the pinnacle of his career to date as he broke his own world records in both sprints with marks that still stand.
Gay’s 9.71 would have won every previous final but left him a distant second as Bolt blasted to a mind-boggling 9.58. Powell again settled for bronze while Bolt went on to win the 200m in a world record 19.19.
In one of the sport’s biggest-ever shocks, Bolt was disqualified after a false start in a final he could probably have won in his sleep.
Taking full advantage of his training partner’s absence, 21-year-old Yohan Blake, who had served a three-month drugs ban in 2009, became the youngest-ever world champion in 9.92 seconds.
American Walter Dix was second, while Collins collected his third medal from his eighth world championships appearance.
Despite an injury-hit start to the season Bolt starts as an unbackable favorite for this year’s title following the withdrawals of Gay, Powell and Blake through drugs bans and injury.
Fellow Jamaican Nesta Carter and Americans Mike Rodgers and Gatlin will probably fight it out for the minor medals.
The final is on Sunday August 11 at 17.50GMT.
Editing by Alison Wildey