Christian Taylor: remember that name because it we didn’t know it before tonight we certainly do now.
A new star was born inside an electric Daegu Stadium as the U.S. athlete struck the jackpot courtesy of a sensational fourth round leap of 17.96m to climb to fifth on the all-time World lists and become the youngest ever winner of this title.
The 21-year-old Floridian has been one of the finds of the season improving by almost a metre this year. He first served notice of his gold medal winning potential by leaping to a wind-assisted 17.80m at the NCAA Championships in June and then again when winning with a legal best of 17.68m in his last pre-Daegu competition at London's Samsung Diamond League fixture.
Yet while many viewed Taylor as a potential dark horse few would have predicted quite the impact he would make.
Phillips Idowu, the defending champion, had to settle for silver with a best of 17.77m – the second longest jump of his career. It still means that no athlete has won back-to-back World triple jump titles.
The U.S. also took bronze thanks to another of their young guns as Will Claye went out to a personal best of 17.50m. Aged only 20 Claye became the youngest ever medallist in his event in World Championships history to further illustrate the exciting future the US has in this event.
Idowu led after round one after putting out an impressive marker of 17.56m and clenched both fists in satisfaction.
The 2007 World champion Nelson Evora of Portugal also showed his gradual return to full fitness was continuing as he set a season’s best 17.35m to hold the silver medal position after the opening round.
There was also a good early jump from Sweden’s 2003 World champion Christian Olsson with a 17.23m leap to take third. Claye also looked in eye-catching form but a jump which looked in the 17.30m zone was declared invalid.
Round two saw no overall change to the medal picture, although once again the 20-year-old Claye leapt a marginal foul which looked to have momentarily threatened the lead mark. Idowu went out 17.38m.
The competition, which has hitherto been low key stepped up in quality in round three. Claye, who preceded Idowu in the running order, laid claim to his medal bid by backing up his “long foul” in round two with a massive new personal of 17.50m. The US athlete celebrated wildly to move into the silver medal position.
The Briton then followed with a bigger 17.70m but responded to the effort by standing motionless at the end of the runway for a few seconds without a flicker of emotion. Perhaps he knew he needed more to seal the gold. If so, he was right.
Claye’s countryman Taylor then got in on the act leaping out to 17.40m to move into the bronze medal position from Evora who was relegated to fourth.
It was though a memorable round four that proved decisive. Taylor, who possesses lightning speed on the runway leapt out to his monster world leading mark of 17.96m before he set off sprinting out of the pit in sheer disbelief at what he had achieved.
The pressure was now thrust on Idowu but to his credit he refused to buckle and scrapping for his life he bound out to 17.77m his best of the competition.
Understandably, round five could not live up to the excitement of the preceding stanza as Idowu went out to 17.48m and Taylor opted to pass. Cuba’s Alexis Copello, the 2009 World bronze medallist, broke the sand at 17.47m to consolidate fourth and move within 0.03 of bronze.
The final round did not add to the drama as none of the eight finalists improved their respective positions. Taylor concluded a thrilling competition with a slightly ugly 15.64m. Yet we will not remember tonight for his sixth round effort - we will remember it for the jump of beauty and his 17.96m in round four.
Taylor’s gold medal winning jump was the second longest in World Championships history behind Jonathan Edwards’ world record of 18.29m achieved 16 years ago in Gothenburg. Idowu’s leap of 17.77m was also the longest to ever win a silver medal at these championships.
Steve Landells for the IAAF