Tara Davis blew a tight long jump competition wide open with a 6.41m leap in the final round to secure the first ever victory for the USA in this event at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
“I knew that it was a big jump but I didn’t think it was that far,” said Davis, who arrived in Cali with 6.25m to her name and valid medal aspirations.
But so did another half dozen jumpers with personal bests of 6.20m or better to make this one of the least predictable events at the championships.
Not included in that group was Sweden’s Kaiza Karlen, who nonetheless took control of the competition with a 6.24m leap in the second round, a 17-centimetre improvement on her lifetime best.
Davis responded with a 6.21m effort in the same round and improved to 6.24m in the fifth to move ahead of the Swede based on their second-best efforts.
However, nothing was settled until the sixth round when Davis unleashed her big leap, which sent her bounding across the track and into the arms of supporters that had packed the stands in the stadium’s north west corner.
The final jump of the competition was Karlen’s. She wasn’t up to the task but was nonetheless ecstatic with her wholly unexpected silver.
“I am so happy because I didn’t even expect to make it into the final,“ said Karlen.
Slovenia’s Maja Bedrac came up big in the final round as well, hopping from seventh to bronze with a 6.22m leap and Slovenia’s first medal in Cali.
Only two centimetres separated the next four finishers.
Great Britain’s Emily Wright and Mexico’s Susana Hernandez reached 6.21m to finish fourth and fifth respectively, while Serbia’s Milica Gardasevic edged Viyaleta Skvartsova of Belarus by a lone centimetre with 6.20m to finish sixth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF