Dominating victories by Michael Norman in the 200m and Anna Cockrell in the 400m hurdles pushed the USA’s all-time gold medal tally at these championships past the 100 mark to highlight the fourth day of action at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 on Friday (22).
Clearly ahead midway through the bend, Norman powered down the homestretch en route to a 20.17 championship record in the evening-capping event, just 0.03 off the personal best that propelled the 18-year-old to a fifth-place finish at the US Olympic Trials earlier this month.
South African Tlotliso Leotlela edged Jamaican Nigel Ellis for silver, 20.59 to 20.63.
Likewise, Cockrell put on a master class in the 400m hurdles.
Building a clear lead by the third barrier, the 18-year-old flawlessly maintained her rhythm en route to a 55.20 victory, winning by more than a second over Jamaican Shannon Kalawan (56.54). It was a massive improvement for Cockrell who arrived in Bydgoszcz with a 55.89 best, and a performance that elevated her to equal ninth on the world U20 all-time list.
Xahria Santiago of Canada took the bronze in 56.90 to land Canada’s first medal in the event since 1992.
There were more shows of pure speed on display for the appreciative crowd gathered at Zawisza Stadium.
The men’s 400m featured a thrilling battle between Karabo Sibanda of Botswana and Qatari Abdalelah Haroun. At least for the first 350 metres.
Sibanda, who supplanted pre-meet favourite Baboloki Thebe as Botswana’s standard bearer when the latter was disqualified in yesterday’s semi-finals, scorched down the back straight and into the final bend with a sizable lead, but paid for that ambition midway through the homestretch. That’s where Haroun pulled away en route to a 44.81 victory, and in his wake pulling Wilbert London of the US to both a PB 45.27 and the silver medal. Sibanda held on to finish third in 45.45.
Zayas maintains Cuban momentum in the jumps
Fierce head-to-head battles were the norm in the field events where three titles were decided.
Luis Enrique Zayas put on a memorable performance in the high jump, producing a perfect eight-for-eight score sheet through a PB 2.27m to out-duel Darius Carbin, the surprise silver medalist from the US.
Zayas’s victory came nearly 30 years to the day after the last Cuban victor, Javier Satomayor, won the inaugural title in the event in Athens in 1986. The 19-year-old didn’t miss until the bar was raised to 2.29m when he had all but wrapped up the competition.
Carbin, 18, topped 2.25m, adding three centimetres to his PB. Mohamat Allamine Hamdi of Qatar took the bronze with 2.23m.
In the women's long jump, Yanis David's 6.42m first-round effort managed to survive the four rounds to garner France its first gold of these championships. Sophie Weissenberg of Germany kept it close throughout, with her bet of 6.40m coming in the first round as well. Hilary Kpatcha was third with 6.33m for a French 1-3, igniting the evening's loudest celebration in the stands.
Bence Halasz overtook Ukraine's Hlib Piskunov with an 80.93m toss in the third round to take top honours in the hammer, a first at these championships for Hungary. Piskunov, who threw to gold at last year's World U18 Championships, reached a PB of 79.58m. Finn Aleksi Jaakkola (77.88m) took the bronze.
Championship steeplechase record for Chespol
Meanwhile, Celliphine Chespol dominated the proceedings in the 3000m steeplechase, the evening’s longest race, claiming Kenya's seventh title in the event.
The world U18 champion ran alone at the front for more than half the race en route to a 9:25.15 championship record. Tigist Getnet from Bahrain was a distant second in 9:34.08 with Ethiopian Agrie Belachew taking bronze in 9:37.17, a personal best. In a quality race, nine national U20 records were broken.
Lagger collects historic gold for Austria
Sarah Lagger tallied 5960 points to take the title in the heptathlon, the first medal of any kind for Austria in the history of these championships.
Trailing Cuban Adriana Rodriguez by 181 points after day one, the 16-year-old chipped away at that deficit throughout the second day, reaching 5.95m in the long jump, throwing 43.65m in the javelin and clocking 2:15.99 in the 800m to move up a notch from her silver medal finish in the event at last year's IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015. And all that exactly one week after she finished second at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi.
Rodriguez, sixth in Cali, tallied a PB of 5925 to finish second with Hanne Maudens of Belgium third with 5881, also a personal best and the first medal ever in the event for Belgium.
Japanese men and French women pace 4x100m relay qualifiers
The evening also witnessed the first round of the 4x100m relays. On the men's side, the Japanese quartet was the fastest, winning the third heat in 39.53 ahead of Australia, which clocked 39.67. Germany (39.69), the US (39.70) and Jamaica (39.80) moved on comfortably as seven of the eight finalists dipped under 40 seconds.
The round's major casualty was Brazil, first across the line in heat two, but later disqualified for an exchange violation.
France and the US, clocking 43.82 and 44.31 respectively, paced the women's qualifying round with Germany (44.73) and hosts Poland (44.55) among the medal prospects that also advanced.
Jamaica and Great Britain were the big casualties of the round, the former disqualified for a lane infraction while the latter botched an exchange and didn’t finish.
In other semifinal action, Jamaican Jaheel Hyde was the quickest in the 400m hurdles at 49.77, just ahead of Taylor McLaughlin of the US, who clocked 50.25.
Edidiong Ofonime Odiong of Bahrain clocked 23.19, the fastest of the evening's three women' 200m semifinals. Sada Williams of Barbados, the world U20 leader, was next fastest at 23.35.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF