The season’s pole vault leader, 16-year-old Desiree Singh of Germany survived a third time clearance scare at 4.10 to win the World Youth gold medal with a new World Youth leading 4.25 here in Lille.
In fact, it wasn’t until her second round clearance at 4.25 that Singh actually moved into gold medal position as she trailed behind Australia’s Liz Parnov up until that stage.
The younger sister of 2007 World Youth champion Vicky and daughter of World and Olympic champion Steven Hooker’s coach, Alex Parnov, Liz has already shown early prowess clearing 4.40 aged 15 last year. Her best of the year stood at 4.00 coming into tonight’s final but that wasn’t going to affect her tactics.
As all of the other 11 finalists were already in action at 3.75, Parnov entered the competition at 4.00, a move that seemed like a risky gamble to on-lookers but she mastered the bar the first time of action with such ease that a lot more was expected of the Australian.
At that stage, Parnov shared the lead with Italy’s Roberta Bruni, a 4.20m jumper this year and one of Italy’s strongest candidate for a medal. As it turned out Bruni may have had a clear sheet until 4.00, that would be her last clearance and she would have to be content with sixth.
Singh was currently sharing third position with Lucy Bryan of Great Britain as it took both athletes 2 attempts to go past 4 metres; US youth champion Sydney White and Yeoryia Stefanidi of Greece were next on the standings.
The bar was raised to 4.10 and no fewer than four athletes went clear the first time of asking with Parnov grabbing a solo lead for the first time in the final. Bryan and Stefanidi also looked solid in second and third position respectively with Sweden’s Alissa Söderberg who had taken three tries at the previous height finally getting her technique together.
On-lookers were now wondering whether there would be a family revenge of the 2007 Ostrava final were older sisters Vicky Parnov and Ekaterini Stefanidi had battled it out for the World Youth title which Parnov took in a still standing Championships record 4.35 ahead of Stefanidi who had herself been crowned World Youth champion the previous year in Marrakech.
Meanwhile, Singh finally managed to go clear 4.10 with her third and final attempt before stunning the rest of the field with her first time clearance at 4.15!
Parnov passed; Bryan, Stefanidi and Söderberg could not master that height leaving them respectively in third, fourth and fifth position.
With only Parnov and Singh left, the judges raised the bar to 4.20, both failed their first attempt. Singh regrouped and was successful with her second jump but Parnov did not panic and also cleared with her second try. The Australian was still in gold medal position having made fewer mistakes, in fact just one mistake.
At 4.25, Singh put together a great jump and went clear with her second attempt, a new personal best and World Youth leading performance. Unfortunately for Parnov, she would not add another title to the family collection and would have to be happy with silver as she failed her three attempts at 4.25.
Singh grabbed Germany's third gold medal in the history of the event following in the footsteps of Silke Spiegelburg and Lisa Ryshich winners in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF