Jakub Krzewina produced a dream performance to lead Poland to a stunning gold medal in the 4x400m relay – and a world indoor record – in a sensational final track event at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham on Sunday.
Karol Zalewski, Rafal Omelko, Lukasz Krawczuk and Krzewina wrote their way into sporting history, winning in 3:01.77 to shock the United States (3:01.97) as Belgium snatched bronze in a national record of 3:02.51 by 0.01 ahead of reigning world outdoor champions Trinidad & Tobago.
The United States set the world record of 3:02.13 at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot four years ago and that record seemed on course to be challenged by their quartet in action in Birmingham as Vernon Norwood collected the baton for the final two laps.
He had a five-metre lead which he maintained for the opening lap but then he started to rock with 50 metres left. But gradually Krzewina, who along with Omelko and Krawczuk won a silver medal at the European Championships in Amsterdam two years ago, was drawing closer.
Suddenly the crowd sensed this could be a sensational finale and they were right, as Krzewina was flying, going past Norwood in the home straight to spark the amazing scenes of celebration among the Polish stars.
"It is a big shock and surprise for us,” said Omelko. “We were targeting the European record but really did not expect a result like this and never dreamed about the world record.
“The last lap with Jakub Krzewina was the crucial one. He pushed it so hard and he is very strong this year. He helped us to win the most.
"But we all worked hard together. We met two weeks before the championships to train together for the relays and had a lot of exchange training.”
Belgium were in fourth on the final handover between Jonathan Sacoor and Kevin Borlee and left their glory to the final stride.
Borlee was doing all he could to match Trinidad’s Lalonde Gordon but it seemed out of reach as the line approached but with one final surge, Borlee dipped on the line for bronze in an amazing race for Europe.
It was a brilliant result for a team in which the Borlee brothers were out in force once more, as Dylan ran the opening leg before Jonathan took over.
"I am feeling pretty good,” said Kevin. “We came here with no pressure, we didn't prepare for it. We came here to have fun and we did. Now we can go home with a medal which was unexpected. It’s amazing."
And Sacoor said: “It's my first time running with the guys at a World Championships. When I saw it on the screen I was freaking out.”
Pozzi crowned world indoor 60m hurdles champion
Andrew Pozzi missed out on a place in the final at the IAAF World Championships in London last summer by a matter of millimetres but the margins were in his favour in Birmingham.
Pozzi added the world indoor 60m hurdles title to his European indoor title from Belgrade in 7.46 to match the time he set in the semifinal, defeating the United States’ Jarret Eaton by one-hundredth. Pozzi didn’t start as well in the final but clawed back the deficit to become first British winner of this title since Colin Jackson in 1999.
“My heart stopped there,” he said. “I knew at the fourth hurdle I was behind. I can’t describe how much I wanted it; I threw everything at the line hoping to get there and I just about got there.
“Every interview I’ve done this year, I have said I was in good shape but I came in ranked tenth or eleventh in the world. But in training I have been running 7.4s so I just had to remain confident that it would happen in competition. I knew it was coming but I knew it would be so competitive.”
French champion Aurel Manga made it two European athletes on the podium with bronze in 7.54, two-hundredths ahead of world 110m hurdles record-holder Aries Merritt.