Ashia Hansen's road to capturing the hearts and minds of the Birmingham crowd was anything but an easy one. Not only did she have to contend with some inspired triple jumping by Françoise Mbango--she's used to that--but she also had to deal with complications unintentionally induced by the men's high jumpers, who were crossing the starting area of the women's runway.
Competing for only the second time this season, Hansen opened with a seasonal best 14.77. Six jumpers later, operating from the favored last position in the order, Mbango bounced all the way out to 14.88, a Cameroon Record.
When Hansen stepped to the head of the runway for her second attempt, confusion ensued: her marker was gone, apparently moved by somebody in the high jump area. After a protracted discussion with officials, it was decided that Hansen--while not using a tape measure--could pace off her runup. That accomplished, she fouled.
The big fireworks came in the fifth round, where Hansen put it all together to record only the sixth indoor performance ever past the 15m line, 15.01.
The bronze went to Kéné Ndoye of Senegal, who upped her national record to 14.37 in the third round, then to 14.72 in the final stanza. Hansen fouled her final attempt, then had to wait out Mbango, who got her second-best jump of the day, 14.73, but remained in second.
With the crowd shrieking its approval for the big comethrough win, Hansen enjoyed a thunderous victory lap before delivering an emotional trackside speech to her admirers.