Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast soared to an emphatic 60m victory in a world-leading 6.97 to finally step atop of the medals podium following her silver medal runs at the 2012 and 2014 editions of these championships.
The 30-year-old, who finished fourth in the 100m at last year’s World Championships, broke the UK all-comers’ record to move to sixth on the world indoor all-time list. The last time any woman ran faster was in 1999.
With a lightning fast start, she followed up her world-leading 7.01 in the semifinal earlier in the afternoon with a time that bettered her 6.99 personal best, set in the same Birmingham venue back in 2013.
“I’m so happy,” said Ahoure, who became the first athlete from the Ivory Coast to win a global athletics title.
“I’ve trained so hard for this and this medal is for my coach and my team that have trained me so hard. I knew the most important thing would be getting out of the blocks and executing my race, focusing on my race, focusing on my lane.”
For the first time since the non-championship race at the 1985 World Indoor Games, there were no US women in the 60m final.
Ahoure’s Ivorian compatriot Marie-Josee Ta Lou finished second in a lifetime best of 7.05, replicating her finish from the 100m and 200m at last year’s World Championships.
It was the first time one nation has claimed the top two positions in the women’s 60m since USA’s Me’Lisa Barber and Lauryn Williams took gold and silver in 2006.
“It’s huge to get gold and silver,” said Ahoure. “The Ivory Coast is on top; we’re so happy and hopefully soon we’ll be able to take over the whole podium.
“This past year has been so difficult with my father (who died of cancer). I knew he was watching from up there. I was talking to him before the race, saying ‘Please Dad, help me in the race’. I couldn’t get a gold medal when he was alive; I have so much pent-up emotion now.”
Ta Lou, meanwhile, wasn’t disappointed to narrowly miss out on a gold medal.
“I’m happy because when I came here, I just wanted a medal,” she said. “The indoor season is not my best; I hit that when the summer comes around. For me, I have a big finish – I just did what I needed to do and when I finished, I had a wonderful feeling.
“Every day, I say that the Ivory Coast is good and I really believe that,” she added. “I was happy to see Murielle in gold and I’m happy to see two girls representing us on the podium.”
Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji took bronze in 7.05, just five thousandths behind Ta Lou and the fastest ever time for bronze at the World Indoor Championships. It was Kambundji’s first global medal, having earned European 100m bronze in 2016.
“I am happy, this is amazing, to win a medal in a field that was so fast,” said Kambundji, who was competing at her first World Indoor Championships. “My career has not always been easy but I am happy it has turned out so well.”
Jamaica’s Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson had to settle for fourth in 7.08, just ahead of two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands who clocked 7.10 for fifth place.
Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago ran a 7.13 season’s best for sixth, while French breakthrough performer Carolle Zahi placed seventh in 7.19.
(Nicola Sutton for the IAAF)