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Most engaging World Athletics Championships in history finishes on a high; athletes were rock stars

USA track and field athletes stood out from the field at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 through record-breaking moments and numerous gold medal wins

BUDAPEST, Hungary--The World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 concluded on Sunday, August 27 after nine days of thrilling action in which superstars of the sport of track and field added to their legacy and new stars emerged as global champions.

A record total of 2100 athletes from 195 countries (plus the Athlete Refugee Team) have competed in the Hungarian capital, watched by more than 400,000 ticketed spectators from 120 countries, and producing one world record, one world U20 record, seven championship records, 11 area records and 73 national records.

The heightened competitiveness provided enormous drama in the field events in particular, where 13 athletes across eight events recorded their best mark in the final round of competition to improve their positions, five of them clinching the gold medal.

The United States ranked number one in overall medal wins at 29 total, 12 gold, 8 silver and 9 bronze.

Meanwhile, US sprinters Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson, Kenyan middle distance diva Faith Kipyegon, Dutch 400m hurdles specialist Femke Bol and dominant Spanish walkers Alvaro Martin and Maria Perez emerged as multiple title winners.

Lyles claimed the 100m and 200m double and anchored the USA men’s 4x100m relay team to victory, while Richardson set a championship record of 10.65 to win her first global title in the 100m, then anchored the USA team to a second championship record in the women’s 4x100m relay; here's a quick review of that race.

For Harvard University graduate, Gabby Thomas, and gold-medalist runner, Richardson, who were backed up on the opening two legs by Tamari Davis and Twanisha Terry, it has been a highly productive first World Championships. Silver and gold for Thomas; two golds and a bronze for Richardson. Thomas won second with a time of 21.81 to Jamaica's world champion, Shericka Jackson in the 200m final, and her teammate, 100m winner Sha’Carri Richardson, taking bronze in a lifetime best 21.92.

The USA delivered their fourth relay gold of the championships, winning the men's 4X400m relay in a world-leading 2:57.31. Quincy Hall, the 400m bronze medalist earlier in the week, gave them an early lead, handing over to Vernon Norwood, the fourth-place finisher in the 400m final.

By the half-way point, they already had a comfortable lead over the rest of the field, all of whom were battling for the front of the chasing pack.

Justin Robinson, who was part of the victorious mixed 4x400m quartet on the first day of the championships, maintained USA’s led on leg three. By this point, France had moved into second place from Great Britain with Jamaica and Botswana in close pursuit.

Rai Benjamin, the 400m hurdles bronze medalist, extended USA’s lead on the last leg and went on to cross the line first in 2:57.31, earning USA’s ninth gold medal in the men’s 4x400m from the past 10 editions of the championships.

“I felt like I wasn't moving that fast but I'm happy these guys got me in a position to bring it home,” said Benjamin. “After the 400m hurdles, I wanted to come back and anchor this relay. It means a lot that the guys have faith in me and trust me. Quincy had an amazing start and the rest of the boys finished strong. I just had to finish the race. It was team work.”

Kipyegon clinched a historic double, becoming the first woman to win both the 1500m and 5000m at the World Athletics Championships after breaking the world records over both distances this year.

Martin (20km and 35km race walk) and Perez (20km and 35km race walk) completed the first gold medal sweep of the race walks program by one country, Spain.

Bol completed a drama-filled nine days by anchoring the Dutch women’s 4x400m team to a last-gasp victory in the final event, having fallen within meters of the finish line in the 4x400m mixed relay on the first night and won her first individual world title in the 400m hurdles in between.

Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas won her fourth world triple jump title, while Lyles (200m), Kipyegon (1500m), Joshua Cheptegei (10,000m), Grant Holloway (110m hurdles) and Karsten Warholm (400m hurdles) have each won three titles in their core event.

With so many brilliant storylines, this will go down as the most engaging edition in the history of the sport.

After nearly one million website visitors a day in the first seven days, Budapest had already surpassed previous visitor numbers for a World Championships.

Over the nine days of the championships, 14,000 news articles have been published for a reach of 28.5 billion. A record number of more than 1200 accredited broadcast personnel from 46 broadcasters, as well as 850 accredited media and photographers from 75 countries, have covered the championships.

Social media platforms passed the milestone of 11 million followers during the championships, and more than 38,000 people visited the Museum of World Athletics exhibition in the Etele Plaza in Budapest.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said:

“Together with the Budapest Organizing Committee we have created a new standard for our outdoor World Championships going forward. It is the new blueprint. We have seen full stadia which creates an electric atmosphere, we have had the highest ever number of participating athletes, we have witnessed jaw-dropping and nail-biting performances, and we have had huge audiences as a result.

The committee used innovative techniques rarely seen in the sport of track and field; there was a medal plaza where athletes were treated like rock stars, to the awarding of coaches’ medals, striking branding that can be seen across the city. Track and field athletes came out on the field as if it were the NBA finals; flashy backckdrops and their digitized photo reels on entry was a stunning opening for each event. Athletes morale were boosted, and the sport itself was more appreciated by the viewing audience wowed by the enhanced technology.

"This is a World Championships city and a country with a long-term, ambitious vision for sport and legacy that goes way beyond a nine-day competition," said Coe.

“Together with the Hungarian government, and science and technology institutions like the Hungarian University of Sport Sciences, we are drawing up plans to create a permanent World Athletics centre of coaching excellence, which will be housed at the National Athletics Centre. This centre will broaden access to world-class coaching around the world and carry out research in sport science, medicine, biometrics, AI, sport equipment and other areas that can help advance and support our pool of super talented athletes and coaches.”

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