Yorgelis Rodriguez of Cuba celebrates after winning heptathlon gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Rodriguez tallied 5966 points just 9 ahead of surprise silver medallist Xénia Krizsan whose score of 5957 was a new personal best. Brazil’s Tamara de Souza, who had found herself in the leading position after day one, grabbed a well-deserved bronze medal in a new South American record 5900 points.
Fourth at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010, and coming into Barcelona with a PB 5548 points, de Souza made her first appearance at the top of the rankings at the end of day one.
De Sousa, in ninth after 2 events leapfrogged to second after winning the Shot Put with a 13.89 last round effort before she improved her 200mPB to also win the event in 24.06 worth 975 and a total of 3638.
Rodriguez found herself 85 points behind the leader overnight with early leader Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium who was fourth in Lille another 69 points adrift at 3484.
However, there was drama as competition resumed this morning for Thiam who dropped all the way down to 18th losing all chances of a medal after the Belgian jumped a poor third round 4.39m following a couple of fouls in the Long Jump.
Rodriguez cut her gap down to 73 points off de Sousa with Sofia Linde of Sweden, 8th in Lille, making her first appearance among the top 3 thanks to a 6.12PB in the Long Jump.
A massive 44.99PB in the Javelin Throw saw de Sousa increase her lead to 124 points as she amassed 5222 points with only one event to go. However only 19 points now separated Rodriguez in second from third, Xénia Krizsan making a sudden breakthrough in the top 3.
The Hungarian, who was seventh two years ago in Moncton, the only one in the field having previously thrown over 50 metres in the javelin was just a couple of metres off her PB but still a clear winner of the event with her first round 48.40 (829 points) to move all the way from seventh to bronze medal position behind Rodriguez.
The 800 metres proved to be decisive and although the top three names did not change, their order and the colour of their medals did.
Krizsan needed to finish 2 seconds ahead of Rodriguez to upstage the Cuban while the Caribbean herself needed to be at least 9 seconds clear of de Souza to claim gold.
It was Krizsan who decided to take the race from the scruff the Hungarian injecting a devastating pace with an opening 1:06.85 400 split. Only Rodriguez was holding on, the Cuban staying within no more than 2 strides behind her until she clocked a superb 2:16.75PB. It mattered little than Krizsan also set a personal best to win the race in 2:16.08 as she could only cut 10 points off Rodriguez.
It took another 15 seconds for de Souza to reach the finish and although the Brazilian also set a PB 2:31.23 she would need to be satisfied with bronze.
17-yerar-old Rodriguez will be eligible to compete in Eugene 2014 World Juniors.
Linde finished in fourth in a PB 5872 with Portia Bing of New Zealand also setting a personal best 5653 for fifth.
Yusleidys Mendieta of Cuba, World Youth champion in Lille 2011 ahead of Rodriguez, was never a factor and finished in tenth with 5514 points.
Austria’s Ivona Dadic pre-event medallist hopeful with a PB 5959, third on the World season’s lists, suffered a hamstring injury as she warmed up for the first event yesterday. Despite debating whether or not to compete, a brave but disappointed Dadic competed in 5 events before deciding to withdraw from the competition.
Notably, World Junior leader at a massive 6248 points Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain who has been selected to compete in the Olympic Heptathlon in London is here in Barcelona but opted to compete in the individual 100m Hurdles and Long Jump – the British athlete winning the latter tonight with a windy 6.81 effort.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF