With the conclusion Sunday of the World Athletics Championships in Finland, the president of the sport's international governing body has given his assessment of the nine days of competition.
Capacity crowds of more than 30,000 filled Helsinki's Olympic Stadium each day. A total of 47 medal events were contested and three world records were set. International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack says the results were amazing considering the athletes had to confront unusual weather conditions.
"On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had as much rain as they have in Finland normally in two months, in the months of July and August," Mr. Diack says. " But I must admit, in spite of these difficult conditions, the reaction of the athletes and the public were absolutely extraordinary. There was a lot of wind. There was a lot of rain. And it was cold. And sometimes the technical delegates asked the question whether they should stop an event. And the athletes said every time 'no, no, we will go on.' "
Helsinki hosted the first World Athletics Championships in 1983. The city was again chosen for this year's competition because of the passion local fans have for track and field. And Mr. Diack says that love is still very visible.
"The stadium was full. And I think this is the proof that the championships went very, very well and stood strong against the tempest. So I think the public here deserves a medal as well," Mr. Diack says.
The IAAF's tough stand against performance enhancing drugs was supported by a visible and highly publicized testing program.
"We made a great deal of out-of-competition testing, pre-testing before the championships and in the championships," Mr. Diack says. "And all together about 50 percent of all the athletes have been tested here."
About 900 of the more than 18000 athletes were screened before and during the nine days of events. Only one adverse drug result was disclosed.
The United States ended with the most medals in a record-setting performance with 14 gold, one more than the 1993 U.S. team won in Barcelona, Spain. The 25 overall U.S. medals included eight silver and three bronze. Russia placed second with seven gold, eight silver, five bronze. Ethiopia was third with three gold medals, four silver and two bronze.
The next World Athletics Championships will be in Osaka, Japan in 2007.