The opening round set the high tone for the competition, as ‘Piyi’ Devetzi of Greece opened with a national record of 14.93 (her previous indoor best was 4cm lower) and a few minutes later was closely challenged by the 14.89m Area record (her previous indoor best was 9cm lower) of Cuba’s World outdoor champion Yargelis Savigne.
The Greek who is the Olympic silver medallist and who took bronze at these championships in 2004, backed-up her opening with a mark of 14.83m, while the Cuba could not improve (14.44m) in the second series of efforts.
Going virtually unnoticed, except by the Slovenian colleague sitting next to me, was the solid opening built by Marija Sestak who started with 14.60m and produced 14.68m with her follow-up to take hold of the bronze medal position.
None of the top-3 players improved in a lack luster third round, though Savigne landed at 14.68m to indicate something more might still be in the tank. The one significant improvement in the third round came from Yamile Aldama of Sudan, who took the bronze in 2006 and silver in 2004, who though staying in fourth improved from her first round 14.35m (12.29 in the second round) to 14.47m.
Sestak remained very consistent, and in the fourth as Aldama’s challenge faltered (14.37m) she threw in a 14.65m effort. Two jumps later – Savigne having produced 14.58m so continuing her own even higher class series – the leader Devetzi crossed into another class altogether. Her 15.00m performance improved her first round national record. The Greek’s effort making her then the sixth furthest jumper on the all-time world indoor list.
The fifth round brought a shift in fourth position as Kazakh Olga Rypakova registered a 14.48m leap to move ahead of Aldama by one centimetre. There was no improvement in the medal positions, Sestak and Devetzi fouling and 14.60m for Savigne.
Rypakova went even better with her next with 14.58m but that of course kept her in fourth, while Sestak secure in bronze could not improve with her last.
Savigne finally got fired up, and having built a high class platform with her previous five attempts lifted off from those firm foundations and landed five centimetres beyond Devetzi’s lead, improving her Area record of the opening round. The stadium rose in appreciation of a gold medal won and a great competition overall, and their wild applause was not premature as when the Greek landed on hers’ and the final’s last jump a few minutes later the scoreboard showed 14.91m. Again Devetzi was the major championship bridesmaid, while Savigne had added the indoor crown to last summer’s Osaka gold.
Savigne's 15.05m win makes her the fourth longest jumper in indoor history.
"I risked everything in the last jump, I didn't know if I was going to be good or not but I concentrated as much as I could and ran fast," said Savigne.
Devetzi was distraught: "I feel a very unlucky athlete. I always seem to lose the gold medal on the last jump."
Chris Turner for the IAAF
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