Friday morning’s Triple Jump qualifying was a triomphe tricolore with Teddy Tamgho and Yoann Rapinier winning their respective qualifying pools and finishing first and second overall.
Tamgho did things with slightly greater panache. One foul, a second jump of 17.41m, back to the hotel to put the feet up.
Rapinier produced a 16.79m first-up, short of the 17.05m required for automatic advancement. As it turned out, that would have seen him advance comfortably to Sunday’s final in any case, but a second jump of 17.39m removed all doubt.
Three French jumpers made the final, with the third one, Gaetan Saku Bafuanga Baya, achieving the feat as uncomfortably as the other two did comfortably. His 16.73m was the same distance as Asian Championships silver medallist Renjith Maheswary of India. The Frenchman got through on a superior second jump, but it was tensely close even there – 16.37m to 16.28m.
Only three other men exceeded the automatic qualifier, or 17 metres, indeed. Olympic champion and defending World champion Christian Taylor produced a 17.36m effort on his one and only trip down the runway. His team-mate, the Daegu bronze and Olympic silver medallist, Will Claye was next with a 17.08m.
This year’s world leader, Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba, went through with a minimum of fuss. The just turned 20-year-old produced a first-up effort of 17.06m and was able to pack his spikes away early.
The rest struggled, as field eventers so often do with early morning qualifying competitions. One once described a trip to the dentist as preferable. Most don’t like it at all. Few produced their best performances.
China’s London Olympic finalist Bin Dong did a bit of both. Out of sorts early with two fouls, he came up with a 16.98m final effort to go through to the final as sixth overall in the two pools. Romanian veteran Marian Oprea went the opposite way about things. He started with a 16.91m, followed with two fouls but still went through with a degree of comfort in seventh place.
The next three qualifiers – Samyr Laine of Haiti, Fabrizio Schembri of Italy and Aleksey Fedorov of Russia – went through with 16.87m, 16.83m and 16.83m, respectively, but it was a far more nervous wait for the remaining two positions in the final.
Dimitrios Tsiamis of Greece, a 17.55m performer at his best and with a 17.05m this year, squeaked through with 16.69m and, as noted, Baya took the final position from the unlucky Maheswary by virtue of a superior second jump.
Among the notable non-qualifiers were Italians Daniele Greco and Fabrizio Donato. Greco, fourth at the Olympics last year, did not compete after straining a muscle in warm-up, while London bronze medallist Donato could do no better than 16.53m. The third US athlete, Omar Craddock, also failed to qualify.
Battle will be resumed in Sunday’s final. It is hard to read too much into qualifying – after all, if you need a second and third jump it is because you’ve messed things up a little – but going on the season so far, we are set for a battle royal between the top five.
Pichardo tops the world list with his 17.69m, but only by three centimetres from Taylor, with Tamgho and Claye both at 17.47m and Rapinier at 17.45m.
Len Johnson for the IAAF