The penultimate day of action at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 featured some of the biggest names in junior athletics, but the biggest talking point of the session came from a 16-year-old Jamaican girl.
Not just any 16-year-old, of course. Briana Williams had underlined her talent earlier in the week when winning the 100m title from world U20 leader Twanisha Terry. The 200m was considered to be very much her secondary event, though, as she had never bettered 23 seconds and was up against a formidable US duo.
Drawn in lane three, Williams darted around the bend and had a marginal lead on USA’s Lauren Rain Williams as they entered the straight. Showing no signs of fatigue in her sixth race in four days, she then extended her lead in the second half of the race and crossed the line in a championship record of 22.50.
Rain Williams finished a distant second in 23.09 with Poland’s Martyna Kotwila taking bronze in a PB of 23.21.
Championship records for Duplantis and Diaz
It is a measure of their calibre when Cuba’s Jordan Diaz and Sweden’s Armand Duplantis set championship records but are left feeling unsatisfied.
Both athletes went to Tampere as the overwhelming favourites in their respective events – Diaz in the triple jump, Duplantis in the pole vault – but they had also hoped to challenge the world U20 records.
The jumping duo were competing at the same time and were as dominant as one another. Diaz led from the outset, jumping 16.84m and 16.91m before breaking the championship record with 17.15m in round three. After a big foul in the fourth round, he matched his winning distance in round five before ending with a foul.
France collected the other two triple jump medals. Martin Lamou picked up an injury during warm-up but got in a valid jump of 16.44m which proved to be enough for silver, while Jonathan Seremes took bronze with 16.18m.
Duplantis waited until the bar was at 5.50m before joining the pole vault final. A first-time clearance immediately gave him a share of the leading position with Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and USA’s Zachery Bradford.
Five men were still left in the competition as the bar moved to 5.60m, but Duplantis was the only one to get over it, doing so on his first try. He then sailed clear at 5.82m to smash the championship record of 5.71m set 12 years ago and ended his series with three unsuccessful tries at 6.01m.
Bradford and Japan’s Masaki Ejima, who both cleared 5.55m, took silver and bronze respectively.
Gold for Zakayo and Zazini
Edward Zakayo gained revenge on the man who pipped him to 3000m gold at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega, in a thrilling 5000m contest.
It didn’t take long for a lead pack to emerge. Zakayo and Barega ran alongside Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka, Ethiopia’s Telahun Bekele and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo as they passed 3000 metres in 8:06.70. Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen managed to detach himself from the chase pack and caught up with the leaders with about four laps to go.
The lead group bided their time for a few more laps, but as the bell sounded it looked as though Ingebrigtsen was poised to out-kick Barega and Waithaka. All of the medal contenders had to weave in and out of several lapped runners, but it was Zakayo who proved to have the best kick as he sped past Barega, Ingebrigtsen and Waithaka to take gold in 13:20.16.
Waithaka made it a Kenyan 1-2 with 13:20.57, while Ingebrigtsen took bronze with a PB of 13:20.78, breaking the European U20 record that had stood to Steve Binns since 1979.
Sokwakhana Zazini became the fourth reigning world U18 champion to win gold in Tampere, but his victory here in the 400m hurdles was a completely different race to the one he won in Nairobi last year when taking his first global title.
The South African won by almost three seconds in the Kenyan capital last year. Here in Tampere, however, little more than half a second separated the first four men across the line.
Zazini had a slight lead over Qatar’s Bassem Hemeida as they negotiated the final two barriers and he scrapped his way to the finish line to win in 49.42, his fastest time at sea level.
Hemeida was rewarded with a PB of 49.59 to take the silver medal. Brazil’s Alison Santos, fifth in Nairobi last year, was a lot closer to Zazini this time and claimed the bronze medal with a PB of 49.78.
Gold at last for USA
They had to wait until the last event of the penultimate day of action, but USA finally won their first gold medal of the championships by winning the men’s 4x100m.
After numerous other gold medal hopes had fallen by the wayside earlier in the championships, the US quartet of Eric Harrison, Anthony Schwartz, Austin Kratz and Micah Williams got the baton safely around to stop the clock at 38.88. Fellow sprint powerhouse Jamaica claimed silver with 38.96, while Germany pipped Japan on the line to take bronze 39.22 to 39.23.
USA and Jamaica had failed to reach the final of the women’s event, but the race wasn’t lacking in excitement. One year after breaking the world U20 record, Germany won their first world U20 title in the women’s 4x100m since 2000, clocking 43.82.
Ireland won their third ever World U20 Championships medal by taking silver in a national U20 record of 43.90 while Britain got the bronze with 44.05.
From Taicang triumphs to Tampere titles
Both of the U20 winners from the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018 ended up taking gold medals in the 10,000m race walk events in Tampere.
After covering 25 laps of the track in uncomfortably warm conditions, just six thousandths of a second separated the top two finishers at the end of the men’s event. World U18 champion Zhang Yao, who also won in Taicang, looked well on his way to pick up a third global title, but Ecuador’s David Hurtado produced an inspired effort down the final home straight and crossed the line level with Zhang.
After a couple of minutes, it was finally confirmed that Zhang had won the title in 40:32.06. Hurtado was given the same time in second place, but just six thousandths of a second separated them in the photo finish.
Guatemala’s Jose Ortiz took bronze with 40:45.06 as all three medallists were rewarded with PBs.
In the women’s race, the same three medallists from Taicang filled the podium and in the same order.
Mexico's Alegna Gonzalez stayed away from the lead until the final 600 metres but the 19-year-old timed her effort brilliantly, pulling away from Ecuador's Glenda Morejon and Turkey's Meryem Bekmez to win her second major title of the season in a world U20 leading time of 44:13.88.
Bekmez was second in 44:17.69 with world U18 champion Morejon taking bronze in 44:19.40.
Historic titles for Nash and Rogers, shared gold in high jump
Nash Lowis won Australia’s first world U20 title in a men’s throwing event, while Camryn Rogers became the first Canadian woman to win a world U20 title.
Lowis’s third-round throw of 73.47m gave him a three-centimetre lead over Germany’s Maurice Voigt. He then added a metre to the lifetime best he set in the qualifying round, throwing 75.31m in round five to extend his lead.
Tzuriel Pedigo displaced Voigt as the silver medallist, throwing a PB of 73.76m in the final round to become USA’s first ever medallist in the men’s javelin at the World U20 Championships.
Rogers’ opening effort of 64.90m remained the top mark of the hammer final, but it also ended up being the closest women’s hammer competition in World U20 Championships history with just 1.08m separating the three medallists.
USA’s Alyssa Wilson, the world U20 leader, went into the hammer with hopes of salvaging a medal of any colour, having fouled out of the shot put final and finished a distant 10th in the discus. She threw 64.14m in round two to move into second place and apply pressure on Rogers.
Rogers didn’t improve with her remaining attempts but consistently landed her hammer close to the 65-metre line. Cuba’s world U18 silver medallist Yaritza Martinez threw 63.82m to take bronze.
Two gold medals were awarded in the high jump as Greece’s Antonios Merlos and Mexico's world U20 leader Roberto Vilches couldn't be separated on countback after they both cleared 2.23m on their first attempts.
A jump-off was an option but the two protagonists embraced each other warmly and were more than happy to split the spoils.
There was also a tie for the bronze medal between South Africa's world U18 champion Breyton Poole and USA’s JuVaughn Blake. They both cleared 2.23m but on their second attempts.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF