01 SEP 2003 General News Paris, France

'Dunaway's Worlds'

Carolina Kluft celebrates winning the women's heptathlon (Getty Images)Carolina Kluft celebrates winning the women's heptathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright

This is a farewell to the World Championships in Athletics, and my wonderfully enjoyable job as a columnist. There were some great moments, some sad moments, and even some bizarre moments. But then, history is not written only in terms of triumphs. Jim Dunaway gives us his final thoughts from the Stade.

Revelations
 
Most memorably, there were revelations. Carolina Kluft's last-ditch long jump in the Heptathlon; Shingo Suetsugo, the first truly world-class Japanese sprinter in decades; Eliud Kipchoge, beating back Hicham El Guerrouj's bid for a 1500/5000 sprint double; Jacques Freitag, a World champion in the High Jump at 21; Darrel Brown, the 18-year-old silver medallist in the 100 metres, and a few centimetres from gold; Marc Raquil, with his amazing speed over the last 100 metres of the 400; Liu Xiang, a 21-year-old Chinese hurdler who threatens the American monopoly; Tirunesh Dibaba, a 5000 metres gold medalist at 18; hurdlers Perdita Felicien and Jana Pittman. These are all young people - the future of athletics - and it was exciting for me to see them in person, most of them for the first time.

No more sandwiches!

On a personal note, I finally got that great Parisian meal. Ten years ago, a food and wine writer friend took me to a restaurant at a hotel in New Jersey, where a well-known French chef was spending a few weeks upgrading the menu and the kitchen. The chef came out of the kitchen to chat with us, and we had a memorable dinner. The chef, Jacques Cagna - maitre cuisiner de France -- also gave me a card with the name of his restaurant (also Jacques Cagna) and said the equivalent of, "If you're ever in Paris, look me up."

Tonight, I did. I won't spoil this by telling you what the check came to - it was a lot - but after all, you don't come to Paris to save money. Anyway it was an end to all those sandwiches in the Stade!

Earlier today, with no athletics to cover, the same friend and I went to visit the Basilique of St. Denis, where Romanesque architecture first began to change to Gothic, and where all the French kings from Dagobert (in the 400s A.D.) on are buried or at least memorialized. It's only a kilometre from the Stade de France, but I never had time to visit it during the Championnats, because there was so much to do in the Stade itself.

To all of you who read my columns over the preceding nine days, I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

And like every columnist, I get the last word. Au revoir!