With nine finals on the programme, the third afternoon session of the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 was always expected to be full of excitement, and it was reflected in the crowd as thousands of local fans turned out to support the world’s best teenage athletes.
But the end result exceeded expectations with a world U18 best, three championship records and two golds for the home country.
Cuba's Jordan Diaz became the hero of the day with his 17.30m in the triple jump, a world U18 best, beating the mark set by his compatriot Lazaro Martinez in 2014 by six centimetres.
The Cuban entered the final as a strong favourite to win his country's fourth gold in this event in the history of the World U18 Championships, but the level of his performance left the crowd in awe, as Diaz first set a championship record in the third round with 17.00m, only the second U18 athlete ever to reach that mark, and then added another foot to that on his next jump.
The record represented an improvement of 64 centimetres on the Cuban's previous personal best. It also made him the seventh best jumper in the world this year in the senior ranks.
In a close battle for the other medals, Frixon David Chila of Ecuador came through for silver with 15.92m, with Arnovis Dalmero of Colombia in third with 15.89m and the second Cuban, Yusniel Jorrin, only a centimetre behind in fourth.
While there was no world U18 best in the boys' 110m hurdles, De'Jour Russell of Jamaica certainly had a great performance in the somewhat cool and cloudy conditions in the final, taking the win in 13.04.
The time represented an improvement of 0.04 on the championship record he had set in the heats the previous day and strengthened his position as the second fastest U18 hurdler ever. Three hours earlier, Russell was also the fastest in the semifinals, running 13.16 despite technical problems over the hurdles.
Lu Hao-hua of Chinese Taipei took the silver in 13.41, after running a personal best of 13.32 in the semifinals. Thomas Wanaverbecq of France finished third in 13.55, also slower than his semi-final performance of 13.52.
There was every reason to celebrate for the Kenyan fans as the home country took two golds on the track.
The first of those came in the boys' 1500m. In that race, it was the two Ethiopians, Abebe Dessassa and Belete Mekonen, who made the first move, but George Manangoi's attack on the final curve saw him enter the home straight in the lead. That lead only continued growing as the finish line drew nearer. In the end Manangoi finished in 3:47.53, nearly a full second clear of Algeria's Oussama Cherrad, who fought his way past the two Ethiopians.
Cherrad, however, was subsequently disqualified for obstruction. This left Ethiopia with two athletes on the podium, Dessassa taking second in 3:48.65 and Mekonen third in 3:50.64.
In the girls' 2000m steeplechase final, the two Kenyan athletes moved clear of the rest of the field well before the finish of the race and from then on, the only question remaining was which one of them would reach the line first.
Mercy Chepkurui looked like the likely winner for most of the final lap, until she fell at the final water jump. She got back up and even briefly regained the lead, but the storming finish by Caren Chebet took her past her compatriot in the final 50 metres. The final result was gold for Chebet in 6:24.80, silver for Chepkurui in 6:26.10. Etalemahu Sintayehu of Ethiopia finished a distant third in 6:35.79.
Barbora Malikova of the Czech Republic took a decisive win in the girls' 400m final with 52.74, an improvement of more than a second in a race which saw the top four all setting personal bests, taking her country's first ever medal in this event in the history of the World U18 Championships.
There was more reason for the crowd to celebrate in that race, as Kenya’s Mary Moraa finished in the runner-up position in 53.31. In a close finish for bronze, Giovana Dos Santos reached the podium with 53.57, just 0.02 ahead of Doneisha Anderson from The Bahamas.
The boys' one-lap final was a much more closely fought affair; in fact, the closest 400m final in World U18 Championships history.
Bruno Benedito da Silva of Brazil entered the home straight in the lead, but as he faded, a whole line of runners moved to the front. Nothing was decided until the final 10 metres, when Jamaica’s Antonio Watson burst to the front. In the end, however, his win was fairly clear, as he finished in 46.59, with Daniel Williams of Guyana second with 46.72 and Colby Jennings of Turks and Caicos third with 46.77.
The top three finishers all set personal bests, while the second Jamaican, Anthony Cox, who looked like a medallist until the final few metres, had the unfortunate experience of finishing fourth with the same time as the bronze medallist.
Mykhaylo Kokhan was one of the biggest favourites of these championships, and he did not disappoint. The Ukrainian effectively sealed the win in the second round of the boys’ hammer, reaching 82.31m. That was as far as he would manage to go, although he backed it up with another throw of 80.98m, also far beyond what his rivals could do.
There was a surprising silver medallist in the form of Damneet Singh. The Indian won his country's first ever global hammer throw medal with a big personal best of 74.20m in the first round, which he followed with three more throws well beyond 72 metres.
Batuhan Hizal of Turkey looked on course for bronze for the majority of the competition, but had to yield to the German Raphael Winkelvoss, who moved into third with his 71.78m effort in round five. Hinzal's final round improvement to 70.39m left him in fourth place.
The girls' high jump final also ended with a win by the favourite. And it was also a Ukrainian, Yaroslava Mahuchikh. Entering the competition as world U18 leader with 1.90m to her name this year, she went even better with 1.92m to equal the championship record.
Only two girls were left in the competition by the time the bar reached 1.85m, Mahuchikh and the Pole Martyna Lewandowska. The Ukrainian cleared that height on her first attempt, while the Pole failed, forcing her to pass her remaining attempts to 1.87m. That height was once again cleared by Mahuchikh on her first try, which effectively ended the final, as Lewandowska was unable to clear.
Mahuchikh then ordered the bar set at 1.92m, which she proceeded to clear again, this time on the second attempt. There was no more jumping for the Ukrainian, who nonetheless took the gold by a full 10 centimetres, the biggest margin in the history of the championships.
Lewandowska was the silver medal winner with 1.82m, while 1.79m sufficed for Lavinja Jurgens to take the bronze for Germany as she beat Turkey's Rumeysa Okdem and Germany's Bianca Stichling on countback.
Like Kenya, Jamaica and Ukraine, Cuba also took two golds in one session. In addition to Diaz, it was Silinda Morales in the girls' discus who won the title with 52.89m.
The Cuban spent most of the competition in second position behind Leia Braunagel. The German took the lead with her first-round 51.29m, while Morales, the favourite of the competition, could not improve on her opening 50.83m.
It was only in the fifth round of throwing that the Cuban released a big one, taking over first place with 51.96m. She then added nearly another metre on her sixth attempt to prove her victory was well deserved.
Braunagel remained in second with her opening effort, while Liu Quantong of China finished third with 50.10m.
In what was the only event of the evening with no medals at stake, Kenyan athletes took wins in both semi-finals of the girls' 800m. Both races turned out to be tactical affairs, with Lydia Jeruto taking the first in 2:10.47 and Jackline Wambui prevailing in the second in 2:14.18.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF