Henry Frayne of Australia competes in the Men's Long Jump qualification on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
The Panamanian who had set a season’s best 8.16 in his second competition back from surgery in winning the Monaco Diamond League meeting just a fortnight ago could not register a single mark tonight. After three fouls, the 29-year-old saw his dreams of an improbable title defence crash out.
The list of casualties also included the event co-World leader and newly minted World Junior record holder Sergey Morgunov who was way off his 8.35m best and had to be content with 7.87m. The 19-year-old’s last effort broke the 8-metre barrier but the red flag was raised by the judges after the Russian narrowly stepped on the plasticine leaving him out of the final.
Ndiss Kaba Badji of Senegal, Luis Felipe Meliz of Spain, Louis Tsatoumas of Greece and Roman Novotny of the Czech Republic who took part in the Beijing final four years ago were also casualties of tonight’s qualification rounds.
At the other end of the table US champion Marquise Goodwin was the only man who was able to secure his ticket for tomorrow’s final with his opening effort. The American’s 8.11m first round jump was also the best of the day as no other athlete could better his performance.
The surprise winner of the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Mauro Vinicius Da Silva had to take a second attempt after his opening 8.07m fell only three centimetres short of the automatic qualification mark. The 25-year-old Brazilian set the record straight with his second effort measured at 8.11m, to equal the best performance of the evening.
Russian champion Aleksandr Menkov regrouped formidably after an opening 7.87m was followed by a foul. The World Indoor bronze medallist landed at 8.09m with his last attempt to claim a place in the final as the third furthest jumper.
The British pair of Greg Rutherford and Christopher Tomlinson were the next best with marks of 8.08 and 8.06 respectively. In what proved to be a low-key competition both decided to pass their final attempt in order to save as much energy as possible for what is likely to be a very closely fought final.
Sweden’s Michel Torneus (8.03) and Godfrey Khotso Mokoena (8.02) were the only other men over 8 metres. The South African defending silver medallist will be the only man alongside Rutherford - who had finished 10th four years ago – from the Beijing 2008 final to compete in the London final.
Daegu silver medallist Mitchell Watt backed up an opening round foul with a 7.99 second round which proved enough to qualify but he will need to dramatically improve if he wants to become the first Australian to medal in the men’s Long Jump Olympic Games since Jay Taurima’s silver back in Sydney 2000.
The Triple Jump World Indoor champion and World bronze medallist outdoors, Will Claye who will also competing in his premiere event later in the week, was the only other American to advance at 7.99m.
Australia will also have two men in tomorrow’s final as Henry Frayne’s 7.95m was the overall 11th mark of the evening. Frayne who was second behind Da Silva in Istanbul was more than 30 centimetres off his season’s best mark in what proved to be a challenging competition for everyone.
Tyrone Smith jumped a season's best 7.97 to become Bermuda's first Olympic finalist since Brian Wellman's fifth place at the 1992 Barcelona Games 20 years ago!
The last qualification spot went to European Indoor champion Sebastian Bayer on count-back in what was a German battle with team-mate Christian Reif, the 2010 European champion from Barcelona. Both landed at 7.92 but Bayer’s 7.88 second best was four centimetres better than his older compatriot’s 7.81 who found himself eliminated from the final by only 7 centimetres.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
2006 Evergreen Mutola