Over the weekend, the world's best track and field athletes gathered in Belgrade, Serbia, to compete in the World Athletics Indoor Championships. After a season highlighted by fast records and exciting races, the meet was a perfect capstone to indoors and preview of what’s to come outdoors.
Here are all the results and highlights from the indoor world championships, including the biggest breakthrough, most dramatic finishes, and more.
World Indoor Championship Winners
- Women’s 3,000 meters: Lemlem Hailu, ETH, 8:41.82
- Men’s 3,000 meters: Selemon Barega, ETH, 7:41.38
- Women’s 1500 meters: Gudaf Tsegay, ETH, 3:57.19
- Men’s 1500 meters: Samuel Tefera, ETH, 3:32.77
- Women’s 800 meters: Ajeé Wilson, USA, 1:59.09
- Men’s 800 meters: Mariano Garcia, ESP, 1:46.20
- Womens’s 400 meters: Shaunae Miller-Uibo, BAH, 50.31
- Men’s 400 meters: Jereem Richards, TTO, 45.00
- Women’s 60 meters: Mujinga Kambundji, SUI, 6.96
- Men’s 60 meters: Lamont Marcell Jacobs, ITA, 6.41
- Women’s 60-meter hurdles: Cyréna Samba-Mayela, FRA, 7.78
- Men’s 60-meter hurdles: Grant Holloway, USA, 7.39
- Women’s 4 x 400-meter relay: Jamaica, 3:28.40
- Men’s 4 x 400-meter relay: Belgium, 3:06.52
- Women’s shotput: Auriol Dongmo, POR, 20.43 meters
- Men’s shotput: Darlan Romani, BRA, 22.53
- Women’s high jump: Yaroslava Mahuchikh, UKR, 2.02 meters
- Men’s high jump: Sanghyeok Woo, KOR, 2.34 meters
- Women’s long jump: Ivana Vuleta, SRB, 7.06 meters
- Men’s long jump: Miltiadis Tentoglou, GRE, 8.55 meters
- Women’s triple jump: Yulimar Rojas, VEN, 15.74 meters
- Men’s triple jump: Lazaro Martinez, CUB, 17.64 meters
- Women’s pole vault: Sandi Morris, USA, 4.80 meters
- Men’s pole vault: Armand Duplantis, SWE, 6.20 meters
World Indoor Championships Highlights
Best race tactics
Behind world indoor champion Lemlem Hailu of Ethiopia, Elle Purrier St. Pierre earned her first global championship medal for the U.S. on Friday. With an expertly-timed kick on the last lap, the Olympic finalist claimed silver in the women’s 3,000-meters.
In what started as a tactical final, Hailu won gold in 8:41.82, a season’s best for the 20-year-old. Purrier St. Pierre finished close behind in 8:42.04, and Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia secured bronze in 8:42.23. Gabriela Debues-Stafford of Canada finished fourth in 8:42.89. Alicia Monson of the U.S. finished seventh in 8:46.39.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Purrier St. Pierre, 27, said. “I knew it’d be crowded, so I tried to relax as much as I could, get the best positioning I could, and stay tough when it got hard. I was definitely thinking a medal. To actually do it is another thing. I’m pretty pumped.”
The race started at a conservative pace with Debues-Stafford taking the reins up front early. The Bowerman Track Club runner brought the field through the first 800 meters in 2:27 with world cross-country champion Beatrice Chebet on her heels. Around the 900-meter mark, the Ethiopians moved to the front with world indoor silver medalist Dawit Seyaum and Taye running 1-2 in a crowded pack.
Taye led the field through the first 1500 meters in 4:33 before the pace gradually increased up front as the Ethiopians worked to secure a podium sweep. Purrier St. Pierre remained in contention behind Taye, Seyaum, and Chebet on the inside lane.
On the bell lap, Purrier St. Pierre dropped back to fifth place, but the 1500-meter national champion wasn’t behind for long. She used her finishing speed to kick past Taye, Debues-Stafford, and Seyaum for silver seven months after finishing 10th in the Olympic final.
The sprint finals kicked off with two Americans earning medals in the women’s 60-meter final on Friday.
Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland executed a breakthrough performance, winning gold in 6.96. Americans Mikiah Brisco finished second in 6.99, a personal best, and Marybeth Sant-Price placed third in a 7.04, also a personal best.
Behind Gail Devers and Marion Jones, Brisco is just the third American in history to break seven seconds in the event.
Most dominant team effort
World indoor record-holder Gudaf Tsegay didn’t leave anything to chance in her quest to win the women’s 1500-meter crown. The Ethiopian led the final wire-to-wire in a solo 3:57.19, breaking the championship record.
Her teammates Axumawit Embaye (4:02.29) and Hirut Meshesha (4:03.39) finished second and third, respectively, to complete a podium sweep for Ethiopia. According to World Athletics, it’s the first time one country has swept the medals in any discipline at the World Athletics Indoor Championships.
“My tactic was to go for the championship record, and it was good,” Tsegay said. “I was expecting to run 3:57 because my coach told me I could run that time. To get Ethiopians in the top three, I’m so happy.”
After the race, Tsegay said she was fully recovered from the Achilles injury that flared up before the Tokyo Games last summer. Now she’s aiming for the world record in the 5,000 meters.
In her first global championship final, Josette Norris placed fifth in 4:04.71. U.S. national champion Heather Maclean finished seventh in 4:06.38.
“I know it’s in there and I wish it could have been there today, that’s what hurts the most,” Norris said. “My legs felt good today. I wanted to be up there, and see if I could be in third with 300 meters to go, but I just didn’t have it at the end of that race….I did what I did to try contend for a medal, so I can be proud of that.”
Fastest early pace
After a fourth place finish in the 2019 world championships and missing out on the finals in Tokyo, Bryce Hoppel finally earned his first global championship medal in the 800. The American took third place behind Mariano Garcia of Spain and Noah Kibet of Kenya.
Marco Arop of Canada took the race out quickly, crossing 400 meters in just over 50 seconds. He kept the lead until 100 meters to go, when Garcia took over. Kibet challenged for the win in the final straightaway, settling for silver, as Hoppel shot out of the pack to take bronze.
Garcia was pleased with his performance: “I really enjoyed the race and finally, I have success.”
Hoppel was not as pleased, but called the bronze a good place to start before outdoors. “For the first time I didn’t race it as a smart racer, I got myself stuck in a tough spot tactically, and it’s tough to get around those corners,” he said after the race.
Most dramatic finish
Defending champion and world record holder Christian Coleman was expected to win gold in the men’s 60 meters. After the gun went off, it became clear his victory wasn’t set in stone.
Marvin Bracy of the U.S. came out of the blocks hard to give Coleman a scare early on. Olympic champion Lamont Jacobs stormed over the final meters to catch Coleman at the line. The finish was so close that it took a few minutes for the officials to determine who won.
The sprinters paced around the straightaway, watching the replay on the big screen in anticipation. When the final results came up, Jacobs was given the edge in 6.41. Coleman finished second with an identical time, and Bracy finished third in 6.44.
Weirdest finals qualification
In the semifinals of the men’s 60-meter hurdles, David King of Great Britain and Shusei Nomoto finished with the exact same time down to the thousandth. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, the time they both ran, 7.57, was the last qualifier for the final.
The stadium’s sprint straightaway only had eight lanes. Therefore, one of the competitors would need to be eliminated. Instead of a run-off, where King and Nomoto would race just each other for the spot, officials settled on picking names out of a bag. King’s bib was pulled, giving him the nod for the final.
Broadcast commentator Hannah England didn’t agree with the decision. “I would’ve preferred to see a run off personally... There’s a lot riding on a spot in a world championships final,” she said. “That affects your shoe contract. It might affect your bonuses for the year. It might affect your funding with a national governing body. There’s lots of things that effects, for that to be on the drawing of a name out of a hat.”
King didn’t think any other way to choose would have been fair either. “I think it’s the only fair way… is if we line up again and race, and that’s never going to happen. I already had two races today, I didn’t want four, but it was the only fair way. I feel really bad for the guy who missed out but I was super happy for myself to make the world final and run okay in it, considering the rollercoaster.”
Grant Holloway of the U.S., who matched his world record in the semifinals, went on to win the world title in a time of 7.39. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde took silver in 7.50, and Jarret Eaton of the U.S. took bronze in 7.53.
Even though world leader Berihu Aregawi shockingly didn’t make the final, the men’s 3,000 meters was still Ethiopia’s race to lose. Selemon Berega, the 10,000-meter Olympic gold medalist, and Olympic steeplechase silver medalist Lamecha Girma came in as favorites, but would trade the lead with Kenyans Jacob Krop and Daniel Simiu Ebenyo over most of the race.
However, the pace wasn’t fast enough to lose the entire field. Seven men were in contention with 200 meters remaining, including the Kenyans, Ethiopians, Great Britain’s Marc Scott, Spain’s Adel Mechaal, and Morrocco’s Zouhair Talbi.
Berega, Girma, and Ebenyo pulled away from the group on the back straightaway, but Scott charged around the final bend to steal third from the Kenyan down the homestretch. Berega won gold and Girma took silver.
Berega and Girma talked beforehand about running as a team to earn top medals, and the tactic paid off. “We came to Belgrade aiming to make next history for Ethiopian long distance running,” Berega said. Berega and Girma succeeded, seeing as the pair added two more medals to the country’s already large count at these championships.
Scott, who trains in the U.S. with the Bowerman Track Club, was satisfied with his finish: “The Ethiopians and Kenyans were just taking it in turns, but I wasn’t getting too worried about that. I knew if I was there with a lap to go I could come out with a medal because I believe in my finishing speed.”
All eyes were on Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway in the men’s 1500 meters. After setting the indoor world record earlier this season, Ingebrigtsen appeared unbeatable. However, defending champion and former world record-holder Samuel Tefera was also on the starting line, looking to become just the fourth man to repeat as 1500 world indoor champion.
After 400 meters, Ingebrigtsen went to the front and pushed the pace. By halfway, Tefera had moved into second. From there, it looked like a time trial. The field strung out, leaving a foursome of Ingebrigtsen, Tefera, Teddese Lemi of Ethiopia, and Abel Kipsang of Kenya in contention with one lap remaining.
Ingebrigtsen checked behind him to see Tefera right on his shoulder. The Norwegian tried to hold off the Ethiopian, but Tefera sprinted past Ingebrigtsen in the final 50 meters to win the gold in a championship record time of 3:32.77. Ingebrigtsen finished second in 3:33.02 and Abel Kipsang took third in 3:33.36.
“Despite the fact that the race was very tough, I feel very happy now because I became the champion,” Tefera said.
Ingebrigtsen said he didn’t feel 100 percent during the race. “Of course I’m a little disappointed with silver, on the positive side it’s a lot of fun to be a part of a big, great field where we can be competitive and run fast. I came here to fight for the gold and it was a good fight.”
Most satisfying victory
With the top seed Keely Hodgkinson pulling out due to injury, Ajeé Wilson of the U.S. was primed to earn her first global world medal. Wilson had finished second at two previous world indoor championships in addition to two bronzes from outdoor championships.
Natoya Goule of Jamaica led the field for most of the race. Wilson tucked in behind the top group, which also included Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda and Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia. As the group neared 200 to go, Wilson sprinted to the front and built a gap that didn’t close. She crossed the line with her eyes closed and hands outstretched in 1:59.09. Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia finished second in 2:00.54 and Nakaayi finished third in 2:00.66.
“You never take any of these races for granted,” Wilson said. “Coming to the line I was elated, excited… to finally get gold, it means a bunch. I’m excited to go home, have my family, my friends, my teammates, my coach, wear that medal around their necks because it’s just as much theirs as it is mine.”
Performance of the meet
Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela broke the world indoor record for the triple jump with a distance of 15.74 meters. The mark was a full meter farther than Maryna Bekh-Romanchuck of Ukraine in second place and Kimberly Williams of Jamaica in third.
Rojas’s performance wasn’t just good; it was a historic, surpassing even the outdoor record of 15.67.
Most powerful win
Yaroslava Mahuchikh of the Ukraine, who won the women’s high jump, didn’t have the easiest road to victory because of the Russian invasion of her home country.
“For me, coming here was difficult because the traffic was a lot, three days by car, and to jump here was so difficult psychologically because my heart remains in my country,” she told BBC Sport.
The 20-year-old was happy to perform well for family and the Ukraine in general: “It’s so difficult but I think I’ve done very well for my country because I protect my country on the track.”