It came down to three thousandths of a second. At first sight, Marcell Jacobs and Christian Coleman had appeared to be inseparable as they crossed the line in the 60m final of the World Indoor Championships.
The wait for confirmation of the winner was lengthy and, though both men were given the same time of 6.41, eventually it was the Italian who got the verdict with 6.407 to 6.410 with a European record and world lead. He can now add World Indoor champion to a growing list of titles which also, of course, includes 100m and 4x100m Olympic gold.
Coleman’s fellow American Marvin Bracy took bronze with a PB of 6.44 while Britain’s Adam Thomas was fifth with 6.60 in the first global final of his career and a superb race which brought a hectic second day of competition in Belgrade to a dramatic close on Saturday (March 19).
As is customary with the showpiece sprints, there were a number of subplots to this final. Defending champion Coleman was competing again after an 18-month ban due to whereabouts failures, while eyebrows were raised last summer when Jacobs raised his game to seize his chance in Tokyo. As he said in the post-race press conference, however: “You do not win two Olympic golds by chance.”
It was the reigning European Indoor champion who threw down the gauntlet in the semi-finals as he clocked a then world-leading time of 6.45, but Coleman and Bracy had also looked like they had plenty more in the tank on their way to the final.
When it came to their showdown, 60m world record-holder Coleman had the marginally better start in lane three, with Jacobs in lane five, and it looked like the American was about to successfully defend his title. Jacobs got his lunge for the line just right, however.
After such a closely fought battle, thoughts will start to turn towards how potent a rivalry could emerge in the outdoor season. Jacobs will now able to target the outdoor World and European crowns to add to his indoor golds and he said: “I love these moments when I am winning. The next milestones will be the world outdoor championships and the European championships. Coming to the final, I knew it was going to be really, really difficult but I believe in myself and my potential.
“Now, if I win both championships outdoors, I will make history.”
Coleman added: “I can feel that I’m getting my rhythm back so I look forward to what I can do outdoors. I came to the final wanting to run better than in the semi and compete. I feel like I did that but at this level you’ve got to be perfect and I just came up a little short.”