Walter Davis had come into these championships with only the tenth best mark of the season of 17.11m. In qualifying he had needed all three attempts to pass 17m and make sure of getting in the final. But once he stood on the runway for his first round jump on Sunday, he was a transformed man. Roaring through the magnificent Olympic indoor arena he cut the sand at 17.73 for a PB and the gold medal.
In silver with a second round jump of 17.56 and a South American record was Brazil’s Jadel Gregorio. Bronze went to Cuba’s Yoandri Betanzos with a fourth round PB of 17.42.
Considering Romanian Marian Oprea had come here with a world leading 17.74, it seemed a lot to expect the American to make much of a dent in the proceedings, but the reigning outdoor World champion obviously had other ideas.
“Now they must count on and on with my name,” said Davis. “Before these championships everybody was speaking about other names when describing the favourites. I showed it to them."
"Actually I’m training in Baton Rouge on a similar surface so I knew what I should do. That is why somebody like me known for winning on his final attempts was the winner with the first one. I knew that during the competition the surface would switch a little after many jumps. So I put all my energy into the first one. Already during the jump, I knew it was something special.”
The Romanian saved his best effort for the fifth round, but 17.34 for fourth has to be reckoned as something of a failure after the season he has had. In seventh was Britain’s Nathan Douglas on another PB of 17.05 in the first round, but failing to go beyond 17.00 in his remaining efforts.