Konrad Bukowiecki lived up to his role as championships poster boy flawlessly, breaking the world U20 record in the shot put* to highlight the opening day of the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 on Tuesday (19).
As the defending champion and already a rising star in the senior ranks, Bukowiecki was the heavy favourite, and seemingly thrived from the pressure. Opening with a 22.46m toss, Bukowiecki fouled on his second throw before unleashing a massive 23.34m bomb to better the previous U20 record with the 6kg shot of 23.00m set by New Zealander Jacko Gill in 2013.
"I can't believe I just cried, I don't know what just happened," said Bukowiecki, whose previous best with the U20 implement was 22.94m.
In a quality competition, the first seven finishers all achieved personal bests. Romania's Andrei Toader came closest to the Polish strongman, reaching 22.30m to finish second. Bronson Osborn of the US threw 21.27m to take the bronze.
Kwemoi retakes 10,000m spoils for Kenya
Bukowiecki’s heroics came in the second of day one’s three finals at Zawisza Stadium. The other two also featured familiar colours topping the podium.
In the evening-capping men’s 10,000m, Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi kicked away from Eritrean Aron Kifle over the final 200 metres to take a 27:25.23 victory and become the eighth Kenyan man to take the title.
"I came here expecting to win," said the 19-year-old, whose performance was a championship record and the first Kenyan victory since 2010. "I took the race out fast. Once we were on the last lap, I knew I would take it."
Kifle, who helped push the pace from the outset, held on for silver in 27:26.20, a national U20 record and the first medal for Eritrea in the event. Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, just 15, was third, clocking 27:26.68, a personal best.
Ma adds to her riches with 10,000 race walk title
Earlier in the evening, China's Ma Zhenxia cruised to the 10,000m race walk title to become the first gold medallist at these championships.
The 17-year-old clocked 45:18.45, a world U20 lead, to finish more than five seconds clear of Noemi Stella of Italy, who reached the line in 45:23.85. It was the fourth major title for Ma, who won the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and 2015 world U18 titles in the 5000m race walk and gold at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome in May where she triumphed in history's closest race walk championship competition.
Biding her time shadowing the leaders by just a step or two through most of the race, Ma didn't pull away from the Italian until the waning stages of the final kilometre.
Stella, 19, clocked 45:23.85 to take silver, a season's best and Italy's first medal in the event since the distance increased to 10,000m in 1998.
Yehualeye Beletew of Ethiopia took bronze in 45:33.69, an African U20 record. The 17-year-old's next competition will be in Rio next month.
Andraloits the overnight leader in the decathlon
Maksim Andraloits of Belarus tallied 4205 points to take the overnight lead in the decathlon.
Powered by a 10.97 in the 100m, a 7.20m leap in the long jump and a 49.33 clocking in the 400m, Andraloits built a 117-point cushion over Johannes Erm of Estonia, who tallied 4088. Rik Taam of the Netherlands sits in third with 4062, just ahead of Cale Wagner (4031) of the US and Jan Ruhrmann (4018) of Germany.
But world U18 champion Niklas Kaul is still the favourite to take the overall title. The German is currently in sixth place and has a strong second day.
In the evening's first-round action, Tiffany James of Jamaica and Maureen Nyathichi Thomas of Kenya led the qualifiers in the 400m at 52.98 and 53.04 respectively. Germany's Julia Ritter led the women's discus qualifying with 53.84m.
The day two programme includes finals in the men's 100m, the long jump and conclusion of the decathlon. On the women's side, champions will be crowned in the 3000m, shot put and javelin.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures