A World Championship 100 metres final anticipated as being the most open in the competition's 20-year history lived up to its billing here last night by producing a surprise champion, Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, and an unexpected bronze medallist in Britain's Darren Campbell, whose strongest hopes here appeared to reside in the 200m.
Campbell took third place by the smallest of margins from the colleague who was so desperate to make his breakthrough to global prominence here, Dwain Chambers.
Both men were timed at 10.08sec, but Chambers, who sank to the track in dismay after finishing, will be deeply disappointed at failing to take advantage of an occasion where, for only the second time since the Championships began in 1983, no American sprinter figured in the 100m medals. He departed thunder-faced without immediate comment.
The world record holder, Tim Montgomery, who appeared to be running into form after dire early season performances, could only finish fifth in 10.11, with the American champion, Bernard Williams, taking sixth place in 10.13.
The three-times world champion Maurice Greene, the man who has dominated the event since 1997, had failed to qualify for the final, hampered by an injury to his right thigh that threatens his participation in this weekend's relay.
This, then, was the moment for Chambers, who finished last season as European champion and joint European record holder with a time of 9.87 to his credit, to take the final step. All season, in his own phrase, he had taken the hits in the hope of being able to produce the title punch when the big day arrived. But last night his timing was out once again as he saw the man who had beaten him to the Commonwealth gold, Collins, succeed once again despite being drawn out in lane one.
In wind conditions recorded at a dead calm 0.0 metres per second, Collins won his gold in the relatively sedate time of 10.07, slower than several of the times recorded on the previous day, with the 18-year-old Trinidadian, Darrel Brown, who set a world junior record of 10.01 on Sunday, taking silver ahead of Campbell, who greeted his achievement with raised arms in the middle of the track.
Collins, the joint bronze medallist in the world 200m title two years ago, deserves special praise for the fact that he came to these Championships carrying a cartilage injury to his right knee for which, given the distance of his home federation in the Caribbean, he has only been able to receive intermittent medical attention. For all that, this 27-year-old, who is the sixth of 11 children, has been given support in other forms. His government has already issued him with a diplomatic passport and named a street after him. How they will honour this latest achievement remains to be seen. St Kitts, Nevis and Collins?
"My coach will tell you that I'm not one of those hard-working trainers," Collins said. "I don't believe in pumping iron. I'm an easy-going guy, and I'm grateful to my coach that he lets me do the work I want to do."
In registering Britain's presence on the medal table here, Campbell underlined his status as a man capable of delivering on the big occasion. Having won the European 100m title five years ago, and the Olympic 200m silver at Sydney in 2000, the 29-year-old Moss-side athlete is clearly in the form of his life as he seeks to earn further tangible reward in the 200m and relay.
"Hopefully now I'll get the respect I deserve," Campbell said. "People seem to forget about me. It's difficult for me to sum. I promised my mum a new house in America maybe I'll be able to afford it now.
"I've now got a medal in every championship. The worlds was the only one I was missing and I've got it now. You can start putting me up there now with the best sprinters. I'm a sprinter, not a 200m runner or a 100m runner."
Asked to comment on Chambers, he added: "You've got to take the highs and the lows. This will make him stronger."
Britain's hopes in the relay, which starts on Saturday, have been assisted not just by Greene's demise, but by yesterday's demand from the International Association of Athletics Federations that Jon Drummond, who held up the programme for half an hour on Sunday protesting against his disqualification from the 100m quarter-finals because of a false start, be disciplined by his national federation. The statutory punishment for bringing the sport into disrepute, something an IAAF advisory board ruled Drummond guilty of yesterday, is suspension.
Greene was not the only high-profile casualty of the semi-finals, which saw Britain's Mark Lewis-Francis finishlast in his race in the hugely disappointing time of 10.44.
"I'm not going to make any excuses, I just ran crap," said the 20-year-old former world junior champion, who seemed bereft of the exuberant confidence which marked his arrival in the senior ranks two years ago. "I think I've got too much pressure on my shoulders. I've just watched a replay of the race through and I was tense all the way."Reuse content