Lille, FranceAfter cruising through the morning’s qualification round, Jacko Gill said his goal for the early evening final was not only to capture the Shot Put gold medal, but to become the first to breach the 24-metre line with a 5-kilogramme ball. That was a promise it didn’t take the teenager long to keep on the second day of competition at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
Entering these Championships the 16-year-old New Zealander was the biggest odds-on favourite for gold, arriving in Lille as the reigning World junior champion and the World best holder in the event at 23.86m from last year. He relegated that mark to the bins of history in the second round after releasing a heave so mammoth it sent the measuring judges scurrying out of the way. When the dust settled, the scoreboard read 24.35m, adding a seemingly impossible 49 centimetres to his previous best.
That was just near the start of the Kiwi’s extraordinary series of throws, one that will likely remain unchallenged for a very long time.
Opening with a 22.89m toss – a distance only one other youth has ever managed to surpass – he followed up with history’s first-ever 24-metre effort and followed that one up with yet another in the third, when he reached 24.03m. His 23.54m in round four and 21.99m in round five merely solidified his hold on the top end of the all-time list. With a victory by exactly four (!) metres already in hand, he lined up in the circle for his final throw, with the capacity crowd on the homestraight tribune on their feet, clapping rhythmically for the event’s young Prince. His reply was yet another 24-metre effort which broke the grass at 24.02m.
“It was really great to get the record here at a big competition,” said Gill after what will likely be one of his last competitions with the five kilogramme implement. “The way training was going I knew that I was going to throw in the 23 metre range. This was just amazing.”
His feat of winning the World youth title after already having the World junior title is one that only Usain Bolt has been able to manage before. He is also New Zealand’s first ever boy to win the World youth title but his efforts are following those of his compatriot Valerie Adams, who followed up World youth and World junior titles with gold in the senior ranks.
Back on earth, the competition to fill out the podium was won by the team USA duo of Tyler Schultz and Braheme Days. Schultz twice surpassed 20 metres, his 20.35m personal best coming in the round three to secure silver. Meanwhile, his teammate Days had the day of his life, thanks to a 20.14m personal best in the final round which lifted the 16-year-old from sixth to third.
Poland’s Patryk Ocypa (20.08m) and Andrzej Regin (19.88m) notched personal bests as well, and finished fourth and fifth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF