Despite a deluge of superb results that occurred during a packed programme of eight finals (including the Decathlon) on the third evening session of the 11th edition of the IAAF World Junior championships, there was no doubting the highlight was the 2.32m High Jump victory of China’s Haigiang Huang.
Huang who had been one of the guest athletes at the IAAF press conference which launched these championships four days ago, had confirmed then that his hero was China’s three-time World record breaker of the early 1980’s Jianhua Zhu, and by the level of his performance tonight he might soon be emulating him at senior level.
The final had promised to be a two-way duel between Huang and Israel’s Niki Palli, who came to these championships with the world season’s junior lead, a personal best of 2.30m, one centimetre better then the Chinese, who is the reigning World Youth champion. And that’s how it turned out.
Both men were clear at 2.29m but had the competition ended there the Huang would have lost the gold on count-back due to a first-time failure at 2.26m, which was the only difference in the duo’s jumping cards at that point. With the bar raised to 2.32m, and Palli jumping first and having three failures, it was down to Huang with his and the last jump of the competition to attempt to grab the gold. It was a pressured situation in front of an enthusiastic home crowd; Huang did not buckle; the bar did not wobble; a roar erupted in the stadium; China had gold.
Bronze went to Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko whose 2.26m was a PB. Palli's silver was Israel's first ever World Junior medal.
Estonian stuns with 5th best junior triple jump of all-time
And China believed they also had high hopes of gold in the women’s Triple Jump but with the Estonian team already on a high after the World junior record breaking feats of Magnus Hunt in the men’s Discus Throw, compatriot Kaire Leibak found inspiration and never let the lead slip from her very first 13.84m effort.
By the time that China’s Sha Li, the World Youth champion, managed to surpass that distance with 13.87m in the third round, just 10 centimetres shy of her personal best, the Estonian was already up to 13.94m (2nd jump), and the title seemed to have been put well beyond doubt when Leibak moved to an impressive 14.05m in the fourth.
However, round five gave the stadium’s Chinese faithful some hope as in response to a mighty 14.01m leap by Ukraine’s Liliya Kulyk, Li also bounded to exactly the same distance. With two athletes suddenly only four centimetres adrift of the lead, perhaps Estonia’s second gold of these championships was not yet bagged we wondered. But Chinese and Ukrainian hopes were in reality forlorn as in the final round their athletes failed to produce – 12.55 for Kulak and a foul for Li – and punishing them for the impudence of their challenge, Leibak stunned with a last round 14.43m. It was the world season junior lead of course and the fifth best jump by a junior of all-time. Her previous PB was 13.98m on 21 June. It was party time again in Beijing for the Baltic state.
Stylish Spencer takes hurdles in fourth best run all-time
Jamaican Kaliese Spencer with a 55.12 second run became the fourth fastest junior women’s 400m hurdler in history, securing the World Junior gold in what not surprisingly was also the quickest run by a junior this year.
Nicole Leach of USA, who before this evening was the fastest this summer (55.35), was fast out of the blocks and had the early lead but Spencer was close by all the time, and as the stagger revealed its secrets it was the Jamaican who held a 5 metres advantage coming into the final straight. Victory was Spencer’s as Leach could not close, finishing in 55.11 for silver. While the American’s run-in was all effort, the winner’s approach to the line was an effortless looking run of some style.
Sudan’s Muna Jabir Adam was in bronze position until two or three metres before the line, but then her legs failed her, allowing Sherene Pinnock to nip past for the second Jamaican medal of the race… 56.67 to 57.03.
Tuijong - unopposed victory
By the amount of energy exerted by Kenyan Caroline Chepkurui Tuigong, as she dashed unopposed to take the World Junior gold in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, the Kenyan was physically prepared for any attack her opponents might have tried to make this evening.
However, Mekdes Bekele Tadese of Ethiopia who led at the bell cannot have had her own fight for the gold aided when her lead foot heavily collided with the very next barrier. How she managed to land on her feet heaven only knows, and perhaps it was just exhaustion on her part which caused the miscalculation but within the next 20 metres Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel and Tuigong had nipped past her in the battle for the title.
Yet Bobocel didn’t have the extra gear to cope with the Kenyan’s final attack going into the last bend, and finished an excellent silver medallist in a European Junior record of 9:46.19, in the wake of Tuigong’s 9:40.95 championship record. Tadese hung on for bronze, thanks to her earlier pace making efforts which had broken the top three away from the field, and the fourth and fifth place finishes of Latvia’s Polina Jelizarova (9:58.76) and Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (10:00.04) were national junior records.
Sutherland blasts off but ties up as Grgic powers home
Sonita Sutherland is perhaps now regretting her decision to put so much effort into the opening 300 metres of the women’s 400m final. The Jamaican gave it her all from the gun, and while in the lead approaching the penultimate hurdle she looked totally spent coming off it. Taking the opportunity presented to her was Croatian Danijela Grgic who finished fast for gold in 50.78, a world junior season’s lead. A ragged looking Sutherland crossed in second (51.42), with the bronze going to World Youth champion Nawal El Jack of Sudan (51.67).
Quow times gold campaign to perfection
Britain’s Martyn Rooney, the fastest in the field (45.35) looked about to close out the men’s 400m final as the race entered the mouth of the last straight, holding a 2 to 3 metres lead on his opponents but just when we expected the 19-year-old to go away further, we saw there was no more fuel left in his tank.
The Commonwealth Games fifth placer had not taken the opening three quarters of the race in the same extravagant style as Sutherland in the women’s final but physically he could neither hold onto nor capitalize on his advantage when firstly Trinidad and Tobago’s Renny Quow went past for gold (45.74) and then just before the line USA’s Justin Oliver denied him the silver too (45.78). The top two finishers established PBs, and Rooney was third in 45.87.
Quow, 18, the CAC Junior champion, had looked good throughout both the earlier rounds, a 45.91 heat (15 Aug) and a 46.18 semi final (16 Aug), and timed his run to perfection, his previous PB being 45.82 (2005).
Kenyan prevails as large pack sprint for 1500m gold
The men’s 1500m final, which with the exception of its Combined Event equivalent rounded-off the track programme this evening, saw a pack of seven athletes descending on the line in a delightfully entertaining last ditch battle for gold. Kenya’s Remmy Limo Ndiwa was the man with the fastest final burn winning in a season’s best (3:40.44) which just did enough to hold off Morocco’s Abdelati Iguider (3:40.73). Bahrain’s Ali Belal Monsoor stumbled in the last 5 metres but just held on for third (3:41.36) ahead of Kenyan Geoffrey Kipkoech Rono (3:41.68). There was an Eritrean national record in fifth for Tsegei Tewelde (3:42.10).
Vasilyev prevails over Garcia
Yordani Garcia of Cuba continued to excel in the last three events of the Decathlon but it was not enough to hold off the assault of Russia’s Arkadiy Vasilyev who had been in one of the top three medal positions throughout the two days, though on most occasions behind the Cuba’s World Youth champion. In the end it was just a matter of the more mature athlete prevailing, Garcia, 17, being nearly two full year’s younger than the Russian who heads this season’s world junior list (8131pts).
The only one of his ten events in which Garcia didn’t PB over the last two days was the Long Jump, as he continued this afternoon and then this evening with lifetime bests in the Pole Vault (4.20m – 673pts), Javelin (57.65 – 703pts), and finally a 1500m career best of 4:55.97 (583pts).
However, Vasilyev’s talent and experience was not to be denied and his 4.80m (849pts) Pole Vault, itself a PB, was decisive in taking the lead from Garcia which he was never again to relinquish. His Javelin throw of 67.43 (850pts) was also his best ever, and with a rapid accumulation of extra points in those events the 1500m was always going to be a stroll. Even there Vasilyev’s 4:47.44 netted 51 points more than Garcia. The winner can also be very satisfied with five personal best of his own in Beijing, and a final total of 8059 points, a championship record (new implement weights).
In second place, Garcia’s 7850pts was a national junior record, as was Jordan Vandermade’s 7807 finish in third for bronze. Nine personal bests were the secret to the New Zealander’s success - 10.86; 7.16; 14.97; 1.98; 48.96; 15.80; 44.97; 4.40; 60.06; 4:47.09 – with only the 400m behind his career best.
In the qualifiers…
Jamaica’s Anasthasia Leroy with 23.57 headed the qualifiers for the final of the women’s 200m, with Bulgaria’s 100m winner Tezdzhan Naimova (23.63) looking good for the sprint double, though USA’s Gabby Mayo (23.69) looked particularly relaxed winning her heat.
Canada’s Brian Barnett (20.96 – 3rd heat) was the fastest of the men’s 200m semi-finalists, the only man under 21.00 seconds, while Chris Carter of the USA (50.70) looked every bit the gold medal ticket in the 400m Hurdles’ semi-final stage.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
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