PLYMOUTH’S David King finished an impressive sixth at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade on Sunday.
King reached his first major championship final in Serbia, but he had to go through an emotional ordeal before taking his place in the showpiece event.
The City of Plymouth athlete won his heat in the morning in a comfortable 7.65 seconds.
He then equalled his personal best of 7.57 seconds to finish third in his semi-final.
Only the top two in each semi-final automatically qualified for the final with two fastest qualifier spots up for grabs.
Amazingly King and Japanese athlete Shusei Nomoto had exactly the same time right down to a thousandth of a second for the last qualifying spot in the final.
With no extra lanes available, the organisers had to consult their rule book as to work out who should go through. Rather than use the times or positions from the heats, which would have seen King progress, the rules said there should be a toss of the coin to decide the last place in the final.
The coin toss was then changed to a draw and King had to wait nearly three-quarters of an hour before the draw was made live on TV and his name was successfully pulled out.
He then had to regroup to run in the final an hour later.
But he handled the stressful situation remarkably well and in a tight final finished sixth in 7.62 seconds and beat two European indoor champions in Milan Trajkovic and Wilhem Belocian.
He finished as third European behind France’s Pascal Martinot-Lascarde and Spain’s Asier Martinez.
American world record holder Grant Holloway won the final in 7.39 seconds, with Martinot-Lascarde second in 7.50 and King’s American training partner Jarret Eaton third in 7.53.
King’s fellow Brit, Andy Pozzi, who was the defending champion, failed to progress from the semis.
King was just delight to make his first major final and he felt he had done himself proud, but he admitted the whole draw scenario was emotional.
“It was crazy,” said King. “Apparently that’s the first time that has ever happened.
“I didn’t know it (the draw) was going to be filmed live so I kind of regretted going.
“I was just so happy to be in that final, but by the time it came along my emotions had been so high and so low. I was just very, very happy to run a solid race and come sixth.
“I would have taken sixth in the world and a PB in the semis every day of the week.”
Great Britain’s head coach Christian Malcolm was with King in the call-room waiting for the draw to be made.
Malcolm said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when they said it was a flip of a coin and I would have to choose, but then they changed it again and it had to get drawn out of a bag.
“Fortunately for us, David got in the final, but he deserved it. He has been running well all the indoor season and he did run well in the final.”
King, who made his Olympic debut last summer, has really made progress over the last couple of years, which he puts down to joining a training group in America.
“I’ve surrounded myself with great people,” he said. “Jarret Eaton my training partner came third and was second at the last World Indoors and they’ve really made me up my game.
“Since moving to Phoenix and Phoenix Track Club with Tim O’Neil, I’ve come on leaps and bounds and it’s because I’ve got such great people around me. Everyone is so positive, including Tim, so having positive people around me has reignited my love for the sport and that is responsible for me progressing so much.”