Indoor athletics may be unpredictable, but who would have thought that neither Sonia O'Sullivan nor Gabriela Szabo would win the women's 3000m, but a virtually unknown Russian Olga Yegorova whose best performance to date was a third place in the European Cup!
For most of the race, it seemed that Gabriela Szabo, who set a world record 8:32.88 a few weeks ago, was heading for another gold medal to add to her impressive collection. She took the lead from the gun and, like a metronome, maintained her position until 300 metres from the finish, when Yegorova, and her team-mate Yelena Zadorozhnaya, broke away in devastating fashion.
Shadowed by Zadorozhnaya, Marta Dominguez (ESP) and Regina Jacobs (USA), Szabo eased the field through 400m in 69.21, 800m in 2:18.52 and 1200m in 3:28. But the pace was not quick, and Szabo had a tightly bunched group of 10 behind her, with O'Sullivan, who had run a 1500m heat less than two hours previously, 10 metres adrift of the leaders at halfway. With three laps to go, Yegorova moved through the pack into third place, provoking her team-mate Zadorozhanaya to move right on to Szabo's shoulder. With 300 metres left, both Russians kicked hard, but Yegorova was leading at the bell (8:09) and although Szabo was chasing hard, a last 200m of 29 seconds helped Yegorova become the new world champion with a national record of 8:37.48, with Szabo second in 8:39.65. Zadorozhanaya held on for bronze with a personal best 8:40.15.
Area records were set by China's Dong Yanmei (5th with 8:41.34) and Australia's Benita Willis (6th with 8:42.75), while Dominguez (4th with 8:40.98) and O'Sullivan (7th with 8:44.37) set national records.