2003 in focus

14 Years on, we look back at the last time Birmingham hosted this prestigious event


In 2018 Birmingham will become the third city to host the IAAF World Indoor Championships twice, following in the footsteps of Paris which held the inaugural event in 1985 and  1997 and Budapest who staged the championships in both 1989 and 2004.

The world’s best athletes also came to the Midlands in 2003 as Birmingham held the championships for the first time in the UK. Nearly 600 athletes from 133 countries competed, and the medal table took a familiar shape as the USA led the way with 15 medals, eight of them gold.

It was an excellent championship for the British Athletics team, finishing fourth in the medal table on home turf thanks to a medal haul of two gold medals, three silvers and two bronze.

Birchfield Harrier Ashia Hansen gave the Birmingham crowd plenty to cheer about as she won a thrilling triple jump competition. Her fifth round leap of 15.01m wrestled the lead from Cameroon’s Francoise Mbango Etone and she held on to win a memorable gold medal.

One of the other big stories of the event came courtesy of hometown hero Daniel Caines. The Birmingham native produced one of the best performances of his career to clinch a silver medal in the 400m, one place ahead of British teammate Jamie Baulch, before following that up with another silver medal as part of the British relay team.

Coventry native Marlon Devonish provided another unforgettable moment as he won a second gold medal for Great Britain in the 200m.

Devonish, who went on to win Olympic gold a year later as part of Britain’s 4x100m relay team, has fond memories of the 2003 championships and believes Birmingham will stage another successful IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2018.
Devonish said: “The crowd that day were amazing and I’m sure that fantastic atmosphere will be replicated next March, when the IAAF World Indoor Championships returns to the city.

“Winning a medal in a major championships, in front of a home crowd, is every athlete’s dream and I’m sure there will be plenty of British athletes hoping to achieve that dream next March.”

Further success for the host country in 2003 came from British athletics legends Kelly Holmes, who placed second in the 800m, and 60m bronze medallist Jason Gardner.

A number of international athletes also proved their indoor credentials in Birmingham in 2003. Both the men's and women's 3000m were won by Ethiopians, with the great Haile Gebrselassie and Berhane Adere taking gold with dominant performances.

The championships came to a spectacular close with a world record in the women’s pole vault during the final session. Svetlana Feofanova cleared 4.80m to overcome her compatriot Yelena Isinbayeva and finish the three days of action with a bang.