A French jumper by the name of Gaël was expected to take the gold medal in the boys’ High Jump for the host nation and one did, but not the one expected to.
After Gaël Retardier made an early departure from the competition at 2.09m, a whopping 11 centimetres shy of his pre-Lille world leader, it was Gaël Levécque’s turn to rise to the occasion, and that’s precisely what the 16-year-old did.
All it would take was a clutch clearance at 2.13m, one centimetre better than his personal best, for Levécque to take command. Sailing clear on his first attempt, the Frenchman succeeded, and with Russian Usman Usmanov needing a second try and Justin Fondren of the USA a third, the Frenchman took control.
Levécque and Fondren each produced one good attempt at 2.16m but it was a bar a few notches too high, giving the Frenchman a wholly unexpected victory. That his 2.13m winning height was the second lowest to ever garner a gold medal at these Championships mattered little as he dashed, danced and leaped in celebration around the bend, through the infield and down the homestraight.
"It's fantastic, I cn't believe this!" Levécque said. "To win in France is the best. I'm shy but after a jump, I like to express my joy!"
Usmanov took the silver over Fondren, a 2.19m jumper this season, on countback.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- Gael Levecque of France celebrates winning the Boys' High Jump in Lille (Getty Images) © Copyright