Doucoure overcomes the barriers to take gold
Ladji Doucoure claimed France's first gold medal of the 10th IAAF World Championships with a thrilling piece of sprint hurdling, the 22-year-old surging off the final barrier and out-dipping the Olympic champion, Xiang Liu, and the four-time World champion, Allen Johnson.
At last, the hurdlers had good conditions for their final, with a dry track and very little wind (0.2mps into their faces), and the eight finallists did not disappoint, as Doucoure clocked 13.07 to Liu's 13.08 and Johnson 13.10.
Just moments before the race, the large crowd at the Olympic Stadium had been stirred to applause by Yelena Isinbayeva's Pole Vault world record. Now, once the starter's gun sounded, they yelled as the hurdlers flowed down the straight.
Liu, of China, looked to start the quickest, but even by the time he rose to the first barrier, there was nothing to choose between him and the two other principles. Yet he top three were already marginally clear of the other five finalists.
Even my mid-race, you could not have slid a sheet of paper between the leaders. Behind them, as Terrance Trammell slipped back, his American team mate, Dominique Arnold, away from the pressure zone, started to put together the rhythm over the hurdles to the finish that would carry him into fourth place (13.13). But in truth, he was in another race.
Johnson, in the powerful style that won him this title in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003, clattered through barriers seven and eight, but seemed to lose no pace.
Liu, too, clipped the penultimate hurdle. For the first time, Doucoure seemed to make headway.
All three runners stooped low to conquer as they hurled themselves towards the finishing line. Liu, in lane two, must have thought that, as in Athens a year ago, he had done enough.
In that race, Doucoure had crashed through a hurdle, wrecking his hopes of a medal. He made no such mistake this time.