Story by Eric.
Three days of hurried pace, ups and downs and spectacular athletics performances have now left an emptiness in Valencia which the Qatari capital city of Doha hopes to fill when it plays host to the 13th edition in 2010.
Now that athletes have taken their final dives at the tape, picked their feet out of the sand boxes, spun one final time on a circular concrete slab and both jumped up to and over bars with their feet and with the use of fiberglass poles, one is left to ponder exactly what took place during a packed week-end of activities which provided one world record and drew the curtain on several athletes' careers.
Yelena Soboleva earned headlines on the final day of competition with her spectacular world record run on Sunday, reaching the tape in the 1.500m in 3.57,71 to eclipse her own world indoor record set at the Russian national indoor championships in February.
Abubaker Kaki, the surprise 800m find, dispensed of a quality field which set personal bests in all finish spots, running 1.44,81.
Blanka Vlasic defeated the reigning world indoor champion, Yelena Slesarenko, in the high jump and added one more victory to her 23-meet win-streak.
Yelena Isinbayeva won the pole vault, Dwain Chambers won a medal, and Susanna Kallur, the world indoor 60m hurdles record-holder, never made it to the starting line to contest the semi-final.
There was more than enough drama to fill the tabloids, but were there enough good performances to fill interest in a sport where not all the top atheltes compete - especially in an Olympic year?
The IAAF put together a handy historical blueprint of the previous world indoor championships, one which will be heavily utilised in the analysis below.
The information is not to be taken as a prediction of what is in store for certain athletes, simply as an interesting side-note to understanding how certain athletes have performed against their peers both prior to - and at - the World Championships.
So, let's jump in and compare apples to apples (and oranges), and see what the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships had to offer on the men's side.
The men's 60m dash was to be run with a bandit (Chambers) burning to break free of a riddled past, and with Olusoji Fasuba, the year's fastest (6,51), attempting to win his first major.
Fasuba tied his personal best in the final, running 6,51 for the third time in his career in Valencia, with Chambers and Kim Collins finishing tied for second (6,54). The winning time was the slowest since 1991, but the final had a buzz about it which all major newspapers from around the globe generated.
Fasuba joins Canada's Bruny Surin (1993), Jason Gardner (2004) and Leonard Scott (2006) as the only athletes to run the same time in the final as he did in the semi-final - a feat which has been accomplished in three-consecutive championships.
Below are the previous champions, with their semi-final times/finals listed in order. Listed behind their times are the previous season's 100m best (windy or legal) and their subsequent 100m season's best outdoors following their indoor victories. Their absolute bests are not included, simply the best time they were able to record the year leading up to the world indoor championships.
1985: ..... 6,62/6,66 (10,12/10,00 - Ben Johnson)
1987: ..... 6,58/6,50 (10,02/10,07 - Lee McRae)
1989: ..... 6,54/6,52 (10,19/10,19 - Andrés Simón)
1991: ..... 6,55/6,54 (10,12/09,99 - André Cason)
1993: ..... 6,50/6,50 (10,05/10,02 - Bruny Surin)
1995: ..... 6,51/6,46 (10,08/09,97 - Bruny Surin)
1997: ..... 6,53/6,50 (10,27/10,23 - Háris Papadiás)
1999: ..... 6,45/6,42 (09,90/09,79 - Maurice Greene)
2001: ..... 6,52/6,44 (10,20/10,14 - Tim Harden)
2003: ..... 6,56/6,46 (10,00/09,97 - Justin Gatlin)
2004: ..... 6,49/6,49 (10,17/10,12 - Jason Gardener)
2006: ..... 6,50/6,50 (09,94/09,91 - Leonard Scott)
2008: ..... 6,51/6,51 (10,07/00,00 - Olusoji Fasuba)
As one is able to deduce from the above statistics, running on/around the 6,50 mark does not guarantee that the winner will be able to run sub-10,00 outdoors.
Maurice Greene stated to the IAAF that Fasuba's race was "worth 10,00", but the indoor/outdoor factors are too many to sufficiently state that a given winning time will equate to another at a distance 40m longer with varying winds not present indoors.
Top-10 All-time Performer list (Indoors):
6,39 - Maurice Greene USA 3 Feb 98
6,41 - Andre Cason USA 69 14 Feb 92
6,43 - Tim Harden USA 7 Mar 99
6,45 - Bruny Surin CAN 13 Feb 93
6,45A - Leonard Myles-Mills GHA 20 Feb 99
6,45A - Terrence Trammell USA 17 Feb 01
6,45 - Justin Gatlin USA 1 Mar 03
6,45 - Ronald Pognon FRA 13 Feb 05
6,46 - Jon Drummond USA 1 Feb 98
6,46A - Marcus Brunson USA 30 Jan 99
The men's 400m pitted Johan Wissman, Tyler Christopher and Christopher Brown against one another - three finalists from last summer's outdoor championships in Osaka. Wissman looked great in his first-round heat, but, as there were six laps of racing to take place over the week-end, rounds played little difference when the three lined up for the final.
Wissman, whose season-best 200m is 20,90, opened up the race in a swift 21,10 seconds in an effort to get to the pole first and control the race; Wissman stated that he'd had finished only second or third had he not been first to the bell.
For good measure, Kerron Clement's world record (44,57) was run with a 21,07 opening lap.
Wissman surged long and hard on the backstraight and held the lead over his foes coming off the turn, but Christopher, running on his outside, broke down the oxygen-debt better than his rivals, and dashed to a 45,67, the fastest time in the world this year.
It was the 10th time in history the race had been won in 45 seconds, but was the seventh-fastest winning mark ever achieved.
The swift, early pace was of significance to the field, but it did not guarantee that the winning time would be under 46,00; had Christopher not made a mad dash toward the finish line, Wissman would broken a streak of three-straight sub-46 winning times.
This year's race was similar in both split-time and elapsed time to the 2006 race .
The opening 200m times in each of the finals where a split has been taken are listed below along with the previous season's 400m best and their subsequent 400m season's best outdoors following their indoor victories. Their absolute bests are not included, simply the best time they were able to record the year leading up to the world indoor championships:
1985: ..... 21,48/45,60 (45,01/44,62 - Thomas Schönlebe)
1987: ..... 21,76/45,98 (44,69/44,69 - Antonio McKay)
1991: ..... 21,80/46,17 (45,91/45,98 - Devon Morris)
1993: ..... 21,29/45,26 (44,14/44,12 - Butch Reynolds)
1995: ..... 21,31/46,17 (45,14/44,34 - Darnell Hall)
1997: ..... 21,30/45,51 (44,88/44,89 - Sunday Bada)
1999: ..... 21,13/45,73 (44,83/44,82 - Jamie Baulch)
2001: ..... 21,41/46,40 (45,37/45,58 - Daniel Caines)
2003: ..... 20,87/45,34 (00,00/44,33 - Tyree Washington)
2004: ..... 21,57/45,88 (44,78/44,47 - Alleyne Francique)
2006: ..... 21,11/45,54 (44,60/44,64 - Alleyne Francique)
2008: ..... 21,11/45,67 (44,47/00,00 - Tyler Christopher)
Christopher, Canada's fourth male world indoor champion, broke a streak of five-consecutive races where the leader at the 200m mark had gone on to hold the lead the second lap as well.
Devon Morris is the only winning athlete whose indoor best nearly matched his seasonal best the year before his victory, and the following outdoor season the same year (46,17i - 45,91/45,98). Antonio McKay is the only winner whose outdoor seasonal bests both before and after his indoor championship were exactly the same time: 44,69 in 1986 and 1987.
Butch Reynolds, Sunday Bada and Jamie Baulch have thus far been the only other winning athletes whose seasonal bests sandwiched between their indoor championships were nearest one another (45,26 - 44,14/44,12 for Reynolds; 45,51i - 44,88/44,89 for Bada; 45,73 - 44,83/44,82 for Baulch).
Christopher had the fastest previous seasonal best (44,47) of all winners since Butch Reynolds' 1993 victory (44,14 in 1992).
Top-10 All-time Performer list (Indoors):
44,57 - Kerron Clement USA 12 Mar 05
44,63 - Michael Johnson USA 4 Mar 95
44,93 - LaShawn Merritt USA 11 Feb 05
45,02 - Danny Everett USA 2 Feb 92
45,05 - Thomas Schönlebe GDR 5 Feb 88
45,05 - Alvin Harrison USA 74 28 Feb 98
45,14 - Johnson 1 Birmingham 20 Feb 93
45,18 - Calvin Harrison USA 28 Feb 98
45,26 - Butch Reynolds USA 14 Mar 93
45,28 - Xavier Carter USA 85 11 Mar 06
45,29 - Terry Gatson USA 82 12 Mar 05
Next review: Men's 800m and 1.500m
Foto credits: IAAF.org