Haruka Kitaguchi caused a major surprise at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 to deliver Japan’s first ever women's throws gold on the global stages by adding more than five metres to her pre-competition lifetime best on Thursday (17).
The 17-year-old secured top spot courtesy of a mighty fifth-round throw of 60.35m to ensure it was another golden night for the Asian nation following Abdul Hakim Sani Brown’s gold medal the previous evening in the boys’ 100m.
Behind, Stella Weinberg of Norway collected the silver medal having taken a third-round advantage with a PB of 57.11m. The podium was completed by Latvia’s Laine Donane courtesy of a 56.15m throw.
Played out in blustery conditions inside the Pascual Guerrero Stadium, few would have predicted Kitaguchi as a major medal contender after she qualified down in seventh best for the final.
However, it was Kitaguchi who set the early pace adding 43cm to her personal best with a throw of 56.42m to earn the Japanese a 27-centimetre first-round advantage from Donane.
The leading qualifier, Nikol Tabackova of the Czech Republic, held third with 53.86m as the only other thrower exceeding 50 metres.
There was no overall change to the medal picture in the second round. However, the large contingent of Norwegian supporters corralled in the spectator section closest to the javelin runway let out a huge roar when Weinberg moved into first place with a personal best and national youth best of 57.11m in round three.
At the halfway stage, when the field was cut from 12 to eight athletes, it was Weinberg, Kitaguchi and Donane occupying the three podium positions.
The next significant and ultimately deciding act came in round five when Kitaguchi unleashed her gold medal throw of 60.35m – the fourth best ever by a youth girl with the 500g implement – to send the Japanese supporters into raptures.
Her rivals could not respond and the medal order remained static for the rest of the competition.
USA's Sophia Rivera, who was competing simultaneously across both tonight’s shot and javelin finals, finished eighth in the javelin with 50.85m. She won a silver medal in the shot.
Steve Landells for the IAAF