GLASGOW: The World Athletics Indoor Championships concluded on Sunday in Glasgow after three days of thrilling action that kicked off a busy year of top-level competition in the sport.

The event in the Scottish city was the first of five World Athletics Series events taking place in 2024, a year that features the Olympic Games in Paris in August.

A total of 586 athletes from 128 countries across all six continental areas competed in Glasgow, watched by more than 22,000 ticketed spectators from 37 countries, and produced two world records, five championship records, 10 area records and 54 national records.

Femke Bol broke the first world record of the weekend, improving her own 400m mark to 49.17 to win her first world indoor title on Saturday. She doubled her medal haul in Glasgow by anchoring the Netherlands to 4x400m gold on the final day.

Devynne Charlton of The Bahamas also made history in the Glasgow Arena, taking 0.02 off her world 60m hurdles record with a storming 7.65 run on Sunday.

There were a number of other significant firsts, further highlighting the unmatched universality of the sport. Julien Alfred and Thea LaFond won the first ever global gold athletics medals for their nations, Alfred claiming the women’s 60m crown for St Lucia and LaFond leaping to the women’s triple jump title for Dominica. Hugues Fabrice Zango won a maiden world indoor title for Burkina Faso in the men’s triple jump, while Noelie Yarigo’s women’s 800m bronze was a global medal first for Benin.

Like Bol, Belgium’s Alexander Doom also completed a golden double in Glasgow, becoming the first man to win gold in the 400m and 4x400m at the same World Indoor Championships.

Some of the stars from the World Championships in Budapest also shone on the indoor stage; Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis retaining his pole vault title, USA’s Grant Holloway equalling his championship record to retain his 60m hurdles title, Netherlands’ Bol adding world indoor 400m gold to her world 400m hurdles title, Great Britain’s Josh Kerr getting the 3000m title to go with his 1500m crown in front of home fans, USA’s Ryan Crouser throwing a championship record to win his first world indoor gold in the shot put, Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece completing an indoor and outdoor double in the men’s long jump and Burkina Faso’s Zango doing the same in the men’s triple jump.

Away from the field of play, a total of 8600 articles were published by the world’s media for an overall reach of 60 billion.

Regarding press on site, 300 members of the media were in attendance including 116 accredited photographers – a record number of photographers for a World Indoor Championships. The Media Development Programme also took place, with seven participants from five countries – Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa and UK.

Millions of fans from around the world tuned in to watch the action. Viewing figures around Europe were notably strong, consistently bringing in more than 1 million fans from a number of markets such as Finland, Italy and Spain. But the Belgium fans were watching in huge numbers, with more than 4.5 million people tuning in, while there were some 5 million viewers across the UK over the course of the weekend and half a million across the Republic of Ireland – all proving that the World Indoor Championships has strong interest across the world.

Traffic to the World Athletics website indicates at least a 40% increase compared with figures for the previous edition of the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in 2022, demonstrating the steady rise in interest in athletics and the overall health of the sport.

More than 180,000 athlete performance measures were collected, analysed and shared on television and digital channels during the championships, while some 5000 fans engaged with the Predict the Podium game.

The MOWA Indoor Athletics Exhibition Glasgow 24 welcomed more than 16,000 people to its activations in the St Enoch Centre shopping mall and Glasgow Arena, while more than 400 people attended the Coaches’ Club organised by World Athletics in cooperation with the Global Athletics Coaching Academy (GACA).

When it comes to sustainability, the local organising committee (LOC) had Platinum level ambitions against the Athletics for a Better World Standard, the certification system implemented by World Athletics in January that evaluates an event’s achievement in sustainable delivery. While the audit is not yet complete, it is evident that the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 will set a very high bar for future editions of these championships.

Efforts to include social impact and environmental sustainability into the delivery and legacy of the championships was a strong focus and the LOC delivered several pioneering initiatives. More than 800 staff and volunteers received mental health training to help them deliver a mentally healthy event for themselves, athletes, officials and spectators. The project, developed by the event’s charity partner the Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH), was a first of its kind for an event in Scotland. Organisers also partnered with a food bank in the city’s east end to redistribute all excess food from the event, a partnership that will now be implemented by all future events hosted by the Glasgow Arena.

Reflecting on another successful edition of the World Athletics Indoor Championships, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said: “Glasgow has delivered a World Indoor Championships for the ages. Glasgow and Scotland always serve us really well with their welcoming, passionate and knowledgeable crowd.

“The level of competition was nothing short of outstanding. We saw sumptuous athletics, and men and women of equal stature bringing the fans in. With two world records and multiple championship, area and national records broken in Glasgow this weekend, our athletes put on a show that leaves no doubt why athletics is the No.1 Olympic sport.

“Thank you to Glasgow for a fantastic event.”

Picture: © Dan Vernon