It seemed as if the Irish runner had judged the race perfectly as she sprinted clear at the bell to drop the Olympic 10,000m champion, Fernanda Ribeiro of Portugal, but Gabriela Szabo, the 21-year-old Romanian, came past O'Sullivan on the inside 30 metres from the line to win in 8min 45.75sec.
O'Sullivan, initially aghast, was able to raise a laugh immediately afterwards. She had a national record of 8:46.19, and $20,000 in prize money, as consolation. "I ran the perfect race until I screwed up," O'Sullivan said. "I should either have gone earlier or later. There was just one flaw in my race, and I paid for it. My legs went under me and I ran out of track."
Ato Boldon, the double Olympic bronze medallist who was favourite to win the 200 metres title, dropped dramatically out of contention 20 metres from the line last night clutching his right hamstring.
The Trinidadian appeared to be overstriding to keep up with the two men either side of him - Ivan Garcia of Cuba and Kevin Little of the United States. The latter took the title from the outside lane in 20.40, becoming the first white American sprinter to take a global title since Bobby Morrow won three golds at the 1956 Olympics.
The women's 200m final gave Greece their second sprint gold of these championships. Following Haralambos Papadias's 60m victory on Friday, Ekaterini Koffa set the blue and white flags waving by narrowly defeating Juliet Cuthbert of Jamaica in 22.76.
All good news for the hosts of this summer's outdoor world championships. But the IAAF still awaits the Greek federation's account of the alleged refusal by a group of their sprinters to submit to a random doping test in Dortmund last month.Reuse content