With mixed feelings, the athletes pack their bags and leave the University of Oregon campus after the World Championship exam. The nearby airports are crammed with national training suits and in the oblong pockets you can see the pole vaulters’ inconveniently transportable equipment.
The 18th edition of the World Athletics Championships is already history. Eugene’s election ended the anomaly that the United States, the sport’s most successful country, had never hosted a championship. And the North American team used its local conditions to show overwhelming dominance with displays such as triplets in speed (100m and 200m) and men’s shot put.
Except for 2001, when they finished second behind Russia in the medal table in Edmonton (Canada), and in Beijing in 2015, overtaken by Kenya and Jamaica, the United States has led all rankings of this century. In Oregon, without Russian athletes suspended due to the war and with the added motivation of competing at home, the American team tried to break all the records: eventually they partially succeeded: they succeeded in quantity and added 33 medals 30 he got in London 2017, his previous record – and two more than East Germany in Rome 87, the previous record – but not on the quality: he was just a narrow spot behind the 14 gold medals from Osaka 2007.
Still, nobody in Eugene coughed on him. He achieved more than three times as many medals as his closest competitors: Ethiopia, Jamaica and Kenya with 10. The latter did not live up to expectations in the long-distance events, particularly the marathon, which both men’s and Ethiopians won in the women’s categories. Also noteworthy is the failure of Cuba, which returned empty-handed. Spain moved beyond 30th place in the medal table with two bronze medals, although they improved on the performance of the last two editions: in Doha 2019 they only achieved bronze and in London 2017 they came away empty-handed. Factoring in the other six finalists, it was the best World Cup in 15 years since Osaka 2007.
The good work of the American team contrasts with some organizational setbacks. The World Cup took place in Eugene, a place that had its logic: it is the city with the greatest sporting tradition in the country (very close to the birthplace of Nike, which has its headquarters nearby). And the athletes appreciate that they live in a small town (population 176,000) and most of them sleep on the university campus a few meters from the stadium, avoiding long walks. But it was a logistical challenge, with complaints of a lack of hotel rooms and high prices for rooms and tickets. This has led to criticism for the lack of publicity. Hayward Field’s grandstands were not filled, even though the stadium’s seating capacity is around 20,000. Former track and field athlete Michael Johnson publicly complained about it. “The crowd tonight is disappointing. This is not the ideal situation. Sports icon Allyson Felix’s last race and the stadium isn’t full?
In terms of world records, those of Doha were leveled. The American Sydney McLaughlin made it over 400 m hurdles (50.68 s). Nigerian Tobi Amusan over 100 m hurdles (12.12 s). And the Swede Mondo Duplantis in the pole (6.21 m). It was the end of a World Cup celebration that the organization said has enhanced television audiences in the United States and may give their team a boost ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.