In perhaps the biggest upset of the championships to date, Germany’s Lea-Jasmin Riecke claimed gold with a superb leap of 6.51m, demoting Japan’s Ayaka Kora to second and USA’s overwhelming favourite Tara Davis to third.
Davis entered the event with an intimidating record, a world U18 champion three years ago whose talent had only blossomed ever since, underlined by her 37-centimetre advantage over her rivals on seasons’ bests.
But given the conditions in Tampere on Friday night (13), there was always the risk of a major upset.
Shortly before the start of the event, a deluge of rain left the runway soaked as the jumpers lined up, and it was always going to be about who handled the conditions best.
In the first round, it appeared as if everyone was struggling, the longest jump coming from Hungary’s Petra Farkas at 6.09m.
The second round was when it came to life, Ayaka Kora of Japan seizing command with a 6.37m leap. Davis improved on a poor opening effort and posted a reasonable 6.25m, but she was still struggling to find her rhythm.
The challenge became all the more difficult when Riecke ripped down the runway, the heptathlete soaring out to 6.51m, a lifetime best by 14 centimetres.
Little changed at the head of the standings in the rounds that followed, and the tension grew for Riecke in the final round as first Davis, then Kora, took to the runway trying to find one last magical leap.
Davis drew on all her reserves to hit a 6.36m jump, but it wasn’t enough to move up, leaving Kora, with her best of 6.37m, to take silver.
Riecke was then left to enjoy one last victorious leap, her 6.25m a moderate end to a magical evening for the 18-year-old.
“I still don't believe I'm the champion, I was hoping for top eight!” she said. “I had the perfect jump.”
Kora wasn’t overly pleased with second, but the Japanese jumper was looking on the bright side. “I'm a little bit disappointed that I didn't win, however I now have international experience on the world stage which is going to be valuable for the future.”
Davis, meanwhile, was still smiling through the disappointment of bronze.
“I've got to be honest with you, it wasn't my best competition,” she said. “I've a lot of things to work on in the future; this was an eye-opening experience for me. People can still lose even if they're big favourites to win.
“But these championships were a great experience; the crowd was awesome but the weather was weird.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF