They say that the great champions are the ones who manage to win in adversity. Roman Sebrle must, therefore, be a truly great champion, as he came back from adversity on the second day of the heptathlon at the 10th IAAF World Indoor Championships here not only to regain the title he last won in 2001, but to set the second highest points tally in history.
It is not often that you see multi-eveners really gunning it in the final event of their ordeal, which indoors for men is the 1000m.
But today, Sebrle had little option, since he went into the final race 32 points behind Bryan Clay, of the United States. The Czech knew that Clay’s endurance could be tested, and he duly did so, leading his seven fellow metatheses from the gun, setting a pace that, if he could sustain it, could have even yielded the world record.
Through 200m in 31.41sec, 400m in 63.36 and 600m in 1min 35.92sec, Sebrle must have felt Clay’s gaze boring into the back of his neck, as the American stalked the Czech, carefully keeping the gap between them to less than the 3sec he could afford to yield.
But going into the final two laps, the young American began to crack. The gap began to widen, and with a lap to go, Sebrle was six seconds clear of his rival.
Sebrle sprinted into the home straight as if his very life depended upon it, collapsing in an exhausted heap on the track after stopping the clock at 2:39.67, and a final total of 6438pts, a European record.
Clay came home, to his immense credit after two demanding days, with yet another personal best, of 2:49.41, for a final score of 6365 - significantly, four points better than his US team mate, Tom Pappas, scored in winning the title in Birmingham a year ago.
Lev Lobodin, from Russia, confirmed his bronze medal, with a final score of 6203.