The conclusion of the first day of the IAAF World Youth Championships saw the first three titles of the competition decided in the evening session with Germany picking up two gold medals and Kenya’s Mercy Cherono taking the Girls’ 3000m title at Ostrava’s Vítkovice Aréna.
David Storl became the first World Youth champion of 2007 and caused a major upset in doing so. The German shot putter was ranked third going into this event, someway behind the more favoured duo of Marin Premeru of Croatia and Mykyta Nesterenko of Ukraine. Both had thrown over 21 metres this year, while Storl’s pre-Ostrava best was 20.77m.
But that did not last long. He gave a hint towards something special when he led the morning’s qualifying session with a first-round 20.44m throw. Storl was a clear leader in the final too, sending the shot out to 21.40m in the second round and backing it up with a final attempt of 21.30m. All six putts were over 20 metres.
Premeru finished second almost a metre adrift with 20.42m. Meanwhile, Nesterenko had a disaster. His first-round throw was huge, but landed outside the sector. A safety 17.52m throw followed, but that remained his best as his third attempt was adjudged a foul. He finished 11th but did not seem too disappointed – perhaps looking forward to throwing something special in the discus, his better event, in order to make amends.
One throw enough for Fischer
Moments later in the Girls’ discus, Germany won a second gold medal – and this one was even more of a surprise. Julia Fischer was just the fourth best of all the entrants and finished third in qualifying behind the two big favourites, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia and Yuanyuan Jin of China.
Fischer launched the discus out to 51.39m in the first round and that, effectively, signalled the end of the competition. Perkovic and Jin came close, both with throws over 51 metres, but Fischer’s effort – despite being more than a metre shy of Perkovic’s qualifying throw – proved good enough to win.
Cherono sets Championship record
Cherono wrapped up the first day in the best possible way – with a Championship record in the Girls 3000m final. She led from the start and headed the leading pack, which included the Ethiopian duo of Mahlet Melese and Sule Utura.
But Cherono ensured the pace was fast and passed the first kilometre in less than three minutes. She cranked the tempo up once more and led through two kilometres in 5:55.62, by which point Utura had dropped back. Melese, however, was still on her shoulder.
Cherono held on and unleashed a final sprint for victory with 120 metres remaining. She crossed the line comfortably ahead of Melese, 8:53.94 to 8:56.98. Both dipped inside the previous competition record.
No surprises in 100m quarter finals
The British duo who led the girls’ 100m heats earlier in the day were again the fastest in the quarter finals. Asha Philip was particularly impressive, running 11.53 into a negative wind and easing down at the end. Ashlee Nelson won the fourth quarter-final in 11.65 to better the times set by Brazilian pair Rosangela Santos and Barbara Leoncio.
Jamaican 100m favourite Dexter Lee won his quarter final but looked pressed in doing so. His time of 10.65 was just the fourth fastest qualifier for the semi finals and was some way behind the 10.55 PB set by USA’s Kenneth Gilstrap. Canada’s Keynan Parker was the second best and Lee’s team-mate Nickel Ashmeade ran 10.62 to qualify, while Czech home hope Vaclav Zich was fifth fastest overall.
It is almost impossible to separate American sprint hurdlers Wayne Davis and William Wynne – and not only because they have the same hairstyle. Both won their respective semi-finals and while Wynne’s 13.42 was marginally faster than Davis’ 13.44, the latter ran his into a slightly stronger headwind.
National Youth record for Grenada
Ukraine’s Yuliya Baraley was by far the fastest in the first round of the Girls’ 400m and looked to have even more in the tank. But the same can be said for USA’s Meshawn Graham – the fastest of all the entrants this year – who eased to a win in the third heat. Other notable qualifiers include Slovakia’s Alexandra Stukova, Baraley’s team-mate Olga Zemlyak and Jamaica’s Latoya McDermott – all of whom look set to run much faster in the next two rounds.
All the main challengers in the boys’ 400m are through to the next round too, including favourites Chris Clarke and Danzell Fortson. Grenada’s Kirani James was the fastest in the heats and he improved his best by half a second to set a national youth record of 47.38.
Sammary Cherotich of Kenya showed an impressive turn of speed to lead the qualifiers in the girls’ 1500m. She ran 4:19.64 to beat Ethiopia’s Bertukan Feyisa. USA’s Jordan Hasay won the other heat and controlled the pace well, but the finishing strength of Cherotich may prove too much for the American 15-year-old.
Field events qualification rounds
Cuba’s Dailenis Alcántara took just one attempt to qualify in the Triple Jump and led group A with 12.82m, while Slovenia’s Maja Bratkic set a PB of 13.13m to lead group B. Ecaterina Malihina of Moldova showed that she could challenge for a medal in tomorrow’s final as she was the second best qualifier overall with a PB of 12.98m.
The boys’ javelin final will take place tomorrow, but it will be without one of the pre-event favourites. Kuan-Lun Chen of Chinese Taipei had thrown in excess of 77 metres back in January, but today he was some 15 metres short of his best and finished 22nd overall in qualifying. All the other expected challengers are through to the final, which should be a closely-fought battle – just 78cm separated the top four qualifiers.
High jump favourite Kimberly Jess of Germany made it safely through to the final as Romania’s Esthera Petre and Russia’s Natalya Mamlina led the qualifiers at 1.80m. But the two Australians who were expected to challenge – Mia Mackinnon and Trudy Thompson – did not make the cut. Likewise Slovakia’s Klára Ábelová, who jumped 1.82m last month but could only manage 1.70 here to miss out on Friday’s final.
The nine fastest entrants in the boys’ 800m are safely through to the next round. The Kenyan pair of Geoffrey Kibet and Samwel Chepkwony impressed, but they should watch out for Ethiopia’s Henok Tesfaye, who could spring a surprise come the final.
Elsewhere, Legese Lamiso of Ethiopia was the fastest qualifier in the boys’ 2000m steeplechase, while Spain’s Eusebio Cáceres is the overnight leader in the boys’ Octathlon with 3320 points and he leads from Jaroslav Hedvicák of the Czech Republic.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF