Local residents say Helsinki weather is very pleasant in August. They say the wet, cold snap that has drenched the tenth World Athletics Championships is very rare. Despite the weather, the victories were big, and in one case, surprising.
Conditions at Olympic Stadium deteriorated as the evening session began. Gusting winds and chilly rain made keeping warm difficult for the athletes. It also made footing precarious in the men's pole vault final.
German-born Rems Blom of the Netherlands was not a serious favorite. But he took the unusual tactic of switching to a softer pole and was able to soar to a winning 5.8 meters. He says he was very fortunate to go that high in poor weather.
"I told Mark, my coach, I am entitled to be this lucky, because I am the worst jumper over the bar. I make the stupidest misses, I think, in the world. And today the bar stayed up. And the only thing I could think was 'seize this moment,'" said Mr. Blom.
Women's discus was delayed because of a powerful thunderstorm on Tuesday. But the women did not get much better weather Thursday. German Franka Dietzsch was able to throw 66.56 despite again finding herself in poor conditions.
"I was not absolutely sure that I would win with that throw. Because in those conditions, anything could have happened," she said. "And my rivals could have made much better throws afterwards."
American Michelle Perry prevailed in the women's 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.66 seconds.
"It was so wet and windy until you did not need to go out there and press the race. You just needed to run a clean race," she explained.
But the wind helped Walter Davis earn another gold medal for the United States with a 17.57 meter flight in the men's triple jump.
"I was just trying to stay warm. And I moved my step up. If you can catch a wind, move your step up or back or whatever, and catch a wind, then you will produce a big jump. And that was what I was trying to do. And I caught a nice wind. And I hit a big one," he said.
The American men saved the best performance for last, sweeping the top four places in the men's 200-meter race, the first time any nation has done that at the world championships.
Justin Gatlin clocked 20.04 seconds to add the title to his 100-meter win on Sunday. Gatlin is only the second sprinter to complete the 100-200 meter double in the 22 years since the world championships were first held in Helsinki in 1983.
Wallace Spearmon and 2003 champion John Capel also reached the podium while U.S. teammate Tyson Gay was fourth. Gatlin says their sights are set on winning the team events.
"That is the plan. We have a great relay team. Everybody is hungry. I think we are trying to give everybody a chance to go out there and win a gold medal," he said.
The United States has surged ahead in the medal standings with nine golds, five silver and a bronze. Ethiopia follows with two gold, two silver and a bronze while Sweden is third with two golds and a bronze.