The story of IAAF World Championships London 2017 in 17 images

Big name victories. Shock winners. Champions new and old. The IAAF World Championships London 2017 had it all. Here are 17 images to tell the tale.

21/08/2017 11:36

Mo stars on opening night

The beginning of the IAAF World Championships London 2017 that many thousands in the London Stadium had hoped and expected came to fruition as Mo Farah ran to a 10th straight major global title. In arguably the toughest race of his career, Farah held firm against an onslaught from the best Kenya and Uganda had, adding a touch of gold to his farewell tour.

Bolt is beaten

The following night, Usain Bolt's final ever individual race marked the beginning of a succession of shock results in London. The Jamaican great finished with a bronze behind winner American veteran Justin Gatlin, who snuck a victory from under the nose of up-and-comer Christian Coleman in the final metres. 

But still the fans' favourite

But the great man remained the people's champion, and that showed in the outpouring of love and emotion in the aftermath of the race. Bolt was mobbed by his adoring fans on his lap of honour, stopping to acknowledge the swathes of Jamaican supporters who had come out to wish him a fond farewell.

Taking it to the streets

A 10km looped course, weaving between some of London's most recognisable landmarks, saw 150,000 supporters hit the streets to get an up-close view of the world's best marathon runners for free. Following the banks of the River Thames, the course took in St Paul's Cathedral, Guildhall, and the Bank of England before finishing under the arches of Tower Bridge.

Thiam is the queen

On the night where the now-retired, reigning heptathlon world champion, Jessica Ennis-Hill, received gold from the 2011 IAAF World Championships, her successor was crowned. Belgium youngster Nafi Thiam, who beat Ennis-Hill at the Rio Olympics, added the world title to her collection, solidifying her status as the best all-round female athlete on the planet with a near-flawless set of scores.

Another 100m shock

Jamaica's dominance of the blue ribbon event came to a complete end on the first Sunday as favourite Elaine Thompson followed Bolt in defeat. The Olympic champion faded back into fifth and it was Olympic silver medallist Tori Bowie who sustained bumps and bruises after hurling herself over the line and left London as the world's fastest woman.


Continuing with the theme of favourites being beaten, Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas upset her dominant fellow South American Caterine Ibarguen in one of the most enthralling head-to-heads in London. Rojas won by just two centimetres, leaping to gold with her penultimate jump and exploding with emotion afterwards.

Race of the championships

The image tells the story of the women's 1500m final, which lit up the championships on the Monday night. Given the depth of the field it was nearly impossible to predict the eventual winner, and in a brutal battle over three-and-three-quarter laps of the track it was Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon who won in a scrap to the line. The race of the championships saw the world's best middle distance runners left sprawled on the track.

One for the old guard

Two-time Olympic javelin champion and reigning world record-holder Barbora Spotakova said in the weeks ahead of London that the championships coming to the UK capital was the sole reason she hadn't retired. And what a decision it was. The popular Czech won her first world title in 10 years in what is likely to be her final major competition, demonstrating that even with the emergence of new talent across the sport, 36-year-olds can thrive at the top.

Van Niekerk's double trouble

An exhausting seven days of competition saw South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk come agonisingly close to becoming only the second athlete to win the 200/400m double. Six races resulted in gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m. This image, taken after winning the first of his two events, shows how much the effort to match Michael Johnson had taken out of him after just four races.

The next big thing

Possibly the most iconic image of the championships was this; the unfiltered astonishment of a new star of athletics in Karsten Warholm. The 21-year-old Norwegian won the 400m hurdles in a captivating race and could barely believe he crossed the line in first. Of all champions old and new, Warholm's victory encapsulated the championship slogan of 'See the Best. Be the Next' better than any.

Steeplechase chaos

The drama of one of the championships' maddest races captured perfectly as Kenyan steeplechaser Beatrice Chepkoech momentarily forgets what event she's competing in, running past the water jump before making a sharp u-turn. The USA enjoyed a successful 10 days, and no event demonstrated their superiority better than this where they finished with a one-two, overthrowing the usually dominant Kenyan contingent.

Farah ends in defeat

The home fans were made wait eight days between British gold medals, but it wasn't Farah who would deliver them their second. In the final track championship race of his career Farah was beaten for the first time at a major championships in six years. A trio of Ethiopians, led by Muktar Edris, finally got the better of the Briton as they worked together to dethrone the king. Edris, pictured above, celebrated his win with Farah's signature 'Mobot' as the former champion looks on, finally defeated.

Sprint relay success

After a succession of deflating major championship performances for the British men's 4x100m team, the 2017 quartet finally produced. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who secured gold on the final leg, encapsulated the feeling of the stadium with his exuberant celebration, capping off a night which also saw the British women's 4x100m squad win silver.

Not a fairytale farewell for Bolt

However, there was less joy for Bolt who was denied the fairytale ending in his final ever competitive race as he pulled up with a hamstring tear just metres after getting the baton. The crestfallen Jamaican quartet had topped the podium at each of the last seven major international competitions but this time could not complete the race.

Festival of walks

A week after the marathons came the 'Festival of Race Walks', taking place on one of the most famous stretches of road in the world. Flanked by St James's Park and bookended by Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace, the world's best race walkers over 20 and 50km were greeted by thousands of revellers as they took part in one of the greatest days of race walking ever witnessed.

World record

To top off the biggest IAAF World Championships in history, London 2017 was awarded a Guinness World Record on the final night of the championships for the most tickets sold at a single championships. More than 705,000 tickets were sold across 14 sessions of sport, with the morning of Saturday 12 August's 56,620 being the best sold.