Derek Drouin stood on the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 IAAF World Championships but, at the 7th edition of the Francophone Games in the French city of Nice, the Canadian high jumper got his first major international title on Saturday (14).
In arguably the highest quality event of a very warm final day, with temperatures going over 30 degrees Celsius at times and humidity at around 65 per cent, three men cleared 2.30m in an enthralling High Jump, but victory went to Drouin as the London and Moscow bronze medallist went over that deciding height on his first attempt.
France’s Mickael Hanany and Romania’s 2009 Francophone Games champion Mihai Donisan needed three attempts each at that height.
However, as the pair were otherwise flawless, Hanany and Donisan took joint silver medals. The trio all unsuccessfully attempted a championship record of 2.33m.
Two more gold medals went to Canada in the 200m finals.
Crystal Emmanuel had the best start in the women’s race and never gave up her advantage to win in 23.65 into a strong breeze.
Minutes later, her compatriot Oluwasegun Makinde made it a Canadian double in the event when he sped around the bend in lane six and came home in 20.80.
In an interesting tactical tussle over two laps of the track, after a relaxed 1:03.78 first lap, Romania’s two-time World junior champion Mirela Lavric won the 800m in 2:02.27 and just edged out Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui, who had to settle for the silver medal in 2:02.61.
Later in the day, Lavric stood on top of the podium for a second time when she ran the second leg for a dominant Romanian 4x400m quartet that won in 3:29.81, with silver medallists France more than four seconds adrift.
The men’s 1500m was equally entertaining, even if the times were modest.
Souleiman makes Djibouti's day
Souleiman makes Djibouti's day
Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman won his country’s only gold medal of the entire Games when he came out on top of a furious dash for the line over the final 200m in the men’s 1500m, with barely half a second covering the first four men home.
After a very sedentary first kilometre, the World 800m bronze medallist clocked 3:57.35 with Poland’s Krzysztof Zebrowski taking the silver in 3:57.58. Morocco’s Fouad El Kaam was third with 3:57.91 while his compatriot Mohamed Moustaoui, a finalist at the last three World Championships, found himself squeezed out of the medals in fourth place with 3:57.97.
However, there was a Moroccan winner in the men’s 5000m with Othmane El Goumri taking the honours in 13:48.79.
In the men’s 400m Hurdles, Senegal’s 2013 World Championships finalist Mamadou Kasse Hanne confirmed his status as the favourite and got his country’s only athletics gold of the Games when he won in 49.48, the only man to break 50 seconds.
The hot conditions made the men’s 3000m Steeplechase a lethargic affair for much of the race. The pace was outside nine minutes for the first half of the race and only picked up over the final two laps before Morocco’s Hamid Ezzine won in 8:43.41.
He just edged out France’s Yoann Kowal in the battle for the gold medal down the home straight, the latter taking the silver in 8:43.79.
Poland’s Anna Jagaciak took her second gold medal of the Games when she won the Triple Jump with a second-round effort 13.92m.
Jagaciak, jumping seventh, had taken the lead with 13.90m in the first round, but one jump later Romania’s Carmen Toma bounded out to 13.92m. However, Toma’s next best distance was 13.83m in the fifth round and so the title went to the Pole.
Campion the champion
Campion the champion
Out on the roads in the morning, France’s Kevin Campion was in control of the 20km Race Walk almost from the gun. He was in front as the seven starters completed the 2km first lap and he never relinquished pole position.
He went through halfway in 42:13 before maintaining his steady but consistent pace to win in 1:24:32, finishing almost a minute in front of Canada’s Evan Dunfee, who took the silver medal in 1:25:30.
Switzerland’s Laura Polli won the women’s 20km event in very similar fashion to Campion, getting ahead early and staying there, gradually increasing her lead.
Polli led at the halfway point, which she passed in 48:04, and despite slowing slightly over the second half of the race, she still won by almost two minutes as she crossed the line in 1:37:23, with France’s Ines Pastorino second in 1:39:14.
In one of the more modest contests of the five days of athletics, Romania’s Anca Heltne successfuly defended her Shot Put title and won by nearly two metres with 17.14m. Her two other valid efforts, both in excess of 16 metres, would also have won the competition by more than a metre.
Canada’s Krista Woodward took the women’s Javelin with 52.82m.
France fittingly took the final event of the Games, the men’s 4x400m Relay, in 3:05.22.
The victory consolidated the host nation’s position on top of the athletics medal table with 33 medals in total, 11 of them gold.
Poland placed second after five days of competition with 11 medals including seven victories while Canada notched up 21 medals but the national anthem 'O Canada' was only heard six times and so finished third in the medal table.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF