New Zealand has yet another global champion in the shot put. Sixteen years after Valerie Adams won gold at the 2002 World U20 Championships in Kingston, Maddison-Lee Wesche (pronounced Wish-ee) followed suit in a dramatic conclusion to the final at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Pre-competition favourite Jorinde van Klinken set an early marker with 17.05m which - until the latter half of the fifth round - looked sufficient to secure the title. Her prospects were embellished at the cut when the United States' Alyssa Wilson, who threw 17.70m last year and won a bronze medal two years ago, exited the competition without a valid mark to her name.
Van Klinken produced a string of no-throws after her early competition standard bearer and her lack of consistency in the ring counted against her in the fifth round. China's Zhang Linru, who had three successive throws in excess of 16 metres (16.65m, 16.34m and 16.35m), equalled van Klinken's leading mark in the fifth round and moved ahead of the Dutchwoman by virtue of a superior second best throw.
But there was another plot twist in the final round. Wesche, who is coached by Jacko Gill's father Walter and is also an exponent of the spin technique, eclipsed the lead with her final throw which hit the turf at a lifetime best of 17.09m.
Zhang and Van Klinken still both had one attempt left to influence the lead but Zhang fell out of the circle before long-time leader van Klinken fell nearly two metres short with 15.36m.
Wesche was ranked fifth on the entry-list with a recently set lifetime best of 17.00m set in the Mannheim Gala. Even though she was confident of producing an up-to-par performance in a championship environment, the 19-year-old didn't harbour medal aspirations.
"I just wanted to throw a PB. And it worked out really well," she said. "It's an individual sport and I thrive on the pressure and competing against amazing people."
Zhang and van Klinken had to settle for the silver and bronze medals respectively but the Dutchwoman, who was also denied the European U20 title in Grosseto last year with the final throw of the competition, has another chance to win her first gold medal in the discus tomorrow evening.
Wilson will be contesting tomorrow evening's discus final as well. The American, who is seventh on the world U20 lists, isn't expected to feature in the contest for the medals in the discus but she is ranked first on the world U20 hammer lists with 66.99m.
Steven Mills for the IAAF