Nicholas Bett wins the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
Kenya had won 45 gold medals in the history of the IAAF World Championships prior to the gun going for the start of the men’s 400m hurdles on Tuesday night, but none of them had been in an event shorter than 800m.
However, that changed when Nicholas Bett wrote his name into the history books with a stunning finish off the final hurdle to triumph in a national record and world-leading time of 47.79.
Running in the unfavoured lane nine and not seeing anybody until about the last 100 metres, he took 0.44 off Erick Keter’s Kenyan record which had stood for 22 years since the 1993 IAAF World Championships. Bett's winning mark was also the fastest time in the world since the last final in Moscow two years ago.
It was USA’s 2013 world silver medallist Michael Tinsley, running in lane five, who was the first to rise over the first six hurdles but the rest of the field were still firmly in the race as the field started around the second bend.
However, Tinsley, perhaps feeling the pressure having Kenya’s Boniface Tumuti on his inside and Russia’s Denis Kudryavtsev on his outside and drawing up to his shoulder, crashed through the eighth hurdle.
The Russian edged in front and had the slight lead coming into the ninth hurdle, which Tinsley also clipped to take him right out of medal contention, while on the outside Bett was starting to motor and edge closer to the European bronze medallist.
Kudryavtsev still had a slight lead coming into the last barrier but Bett cleared it much more cleanly and then sped away as the Russian started to tire.
Bett later claimed that being out in lane nine was actually a help rather than a hinderance as he was able to focus on getting his stride pattern right, which had been rather ragged in his semi-final.
Kudryavtsev crossed the line in 48.05, taking 0.01 off a Russian record which had stood for 17 years, and was visibly delighted with his silver medal.
Behind them, The Bahamas’ Jeffrey Gibson completed a podium that would have been barely thinkable before the championships and took third place in a national record of 48.17, his second successive national record after running 48.37 in the semi-finals.
In a frantic battle for the bronze off the last hurdle, Gibson just held off USA’s 2007 and 2009 world champion Kerron Clement, the least favoured of the quartet of US hurdlers ahead of the championships following his injuries in 2014.
The latter finished 0.01 back in fourth place in 48.18 while Clement's compatriot, the luckless Tinsley, trailed home eighth and last in 50.02.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF