World leader Marquis Dendy lived up to expectations to take his first senior global title in the long jump, but the competition was a lot closer than expected.
South Africa’s Rushwal Samaai was the first to jump beyond eight metres, leaping 8.14m with his opening effort.
Dendy opened with 8.05m but then flew out to 8.26m with his next attempt to take the lead. Samaai then improved his best to 8.18m, a South African indoor record, but USA’s Jeff Henderson bumped him out of second place by one centimetre with his second-round leap of 8.19m.
China’s Huang Changzhou was the next to move into a podium position. The 21-year-old equalled his PB of 8.19m to move into third place on count-back. Moments later, Britain’s Dan Bramble also moved up the leaderboard with 8.12m.
It was then Fabrice Lapierre’s turn to show his cards. The Australian sailed out to an Oceanian indoor record of 8.25m – farther than his winning mark from the 2010 World Indoor Championships – but here in Portland it was one centimetre adrift of Dendy’s leading mark.
Henderson produced jumps of 8.14m and 8.17m in the fourth and fifth rounds to strengthen his count-back record against Huang, but the Chinese athlete saved his best for last and leaped 8.21m to take the bronze medal.
Lapierre appeared to pick up some slight pain in his leg during his fifth attempt, so he aborted his final effort half way down the runway, leaving Dendy as the champion.
With six men beyond 8.14m, it was the best-quality world indoor long jump final – and USA’s first gold in the event – for 12 years.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF