16 MAR 2003 General News

Men Triple Jump Final

The dichotomy between athletics' component halves of track and field is usually brought into sharp focus at the end of a meet with the staging of the final running event. At that point, no matter what's going on on the infield, it's not uncommon to see the arena quickly empty.

That wasn't about to happen here, not with five contestants remaining in the triple jump and home son Jonathan Edwards - who had led earlier but had been shunted to second in the interim - to be the last of them.

They didn't get to see an Edwards win, but in an amazing final 5–6 minutes of competition they did see the lead change hands twice and the medals get totally shuffled over their order at the end of the penultimate round.

The standings going into the final 5 jumpers: 1. Christian Olsson (Sweden) 17.31; 2. Edwards 17.19; 3. Yoelbi Quesada (Cuba) 16.96; 4. Walter Davis (US) 16.92; 5. Jadel Gregório (Brazil) 16.86.

First up was American champion Tim Rusan, whose 16.88 moved him ahead of Gregório into 5th. Rusan's teammate Walter Davis, an inconsistent jumper who nonetheless was at times a huge player on the circuit last summer, then reached 17.35 to take the lead. Edwards was suddenly only in bronze position.

Olsson, suddenly displaced as the leader, responded magnificently, stretching his angular frame deeply into the pit, cutting sand at 17.70, the No. 6 indoor performance ever.

Now it was Quesada's turn. He hadn't improved since round 2, but suddenly he too came up huge, his 17.27 slotting him 3rd, with Edwards out of the medals.

Despite the entreaties of the crowd, he could manage only 17.00, thus falling to 4th in a competition which a round before had looked like a certain medal, if not a chance to win for the first time.

Olsson told the crowd, "Things really came together after the 17.28 [in the fourth round]. I'm starting to realize I really know how to triple jump."