15 MAR 2003 General News

Men Long Jump Final

Yago Lamela has become a key player in exciting World Championships long jump competitions. Unfortunately for the Spanish star, he keeps coming up just short despite displaying fantastic come-through ability.

The first round was lackluster, only Luis Felipe Méliz of Cuba being able to top 8m, and he only barely at 8.01. Dwight Phillips upped the ante considerably as the first jumper in the second round. The American champion soared to the right side of the pit and dug up sand at a lifetime best 8.23. Two jumpers later Lamela pulled close at 8.13 and they would remain atop the standings through five rounds.

Round three was pretty much a loss, six of the eight jumpers recording fouls.  In round four No. 2 American Miguel Pate got a bit untracked after three fouls, moving into bronze-medal position at 8.04.

Round five was another devoid of significant action, but that only set the table for a delightful concluding sequence of action.

Pate needed an 8.21 to pass Lamela, and 8.24 to supersede Phillips. He got the former exactly, moving into silver position.

Four jumpers later it was Lamela's turn. An 8.21 would pass Pate (based on better second jump) and an 8.24 would overcome Phillips. The speedy Spaniard's red uniform flashed down the runway, he hit the board well and had a clean landing. Seconds later he was celebrating an 8.28 which had put him into the lead.

Now Phillips had the last jump of the day. He too had a decent board-strike, but had chopped his stride slightly before takeoff then landed with his legs far apart. Stylewise, it didn't look like a winning jump. The measuring system quickly put the lie to that kind of analysis, however, as an 8.29 gave him the win by the narrowest of margins.

Ecstatic, the winner did a victory lap of about half the oval before falling to his knees in gratitude. At a trackside interview he told the crowd, "My last jump is always my biggest one."