World Indoor Championships victory for Juan Miguel Echevarría as just four centimetres covers the medallists, while Anita Márton wins thrilling shot put contest
The IAAF World Indoor Championships men’s long jump final might have been missing former world and Olympic champion Greg Rutherford but crowds were still treated to a superb competition after a modest start.
Cuban teenager Juan Miguel Echevarría’s 8.19m was the clear leader after the first round, with everyone else below eight metres.
The Cuban improved to 8.28m in the second round.
At this stage, Rushwahl Samaai was second with 8.02m ahead of defending champion Marquis Dendy’s same length jump.
In round three the South African Samaai improved to 8.05m as the Cuban leader had a foul.
World runner-up Jarrion Lawson of the United States briefly went into a medal position later in the round as he too jumped 8.02m but that didn’t last long.
The huge favourite, world outdoor champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa, was struggling after two big no jumps and the pressure was on with his third jump.
He could have played safe but he went for it and only had six centimetres spare of the foul line. He sailed into the lead with a 8.33m leap.
Echevarria’s response in round four was a UK all-comers’ record 8.36m to regain the lead but that lasted a single jump as Manyonga improved superbly to an indoor PB of 8.44m.
The excitement continued in round five. Dendy of the United States improved all the way up to 8.42m to go into the silver medal position. That moved Echevarria back to third but he is obviously a great competitor as he immediately bounced back into the lead with yet another all-comers’ record of 8.46m.
Manyonga’s fifth round response of his own was another foul and with another foul in the final round – his fourth in six jumps – gold went to the little-known Cuban who was a non-qualifier in London last summer.
He becomes the youngest male field event champion of all time.
“I’m delighted with the result,” he said. “It was a tough competition. It was very tight with very close margins but I prepared physically and mentally for the event.
“I think I’m in the peak of my career and feeling physically strong. Birmingham has been great to me and the atmosphere has been fantastic and I’m really looking forward to what 2018 holds.”
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Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarría has some fun in front of the camera as the interpreter gives his answer! The 19-year-old on winning world indoor long jump gold after such a close and thrilling competition at @wicbirmingham2018… Read about it on our website now! #iaafworlds #wicbham2018 #longjump #gold
Dendy stayed third but did have the consolation of producing the best bronze medal jump in world indoor history.
The women’s shot put was also a thrilling competition as Anita Márton progressed from silver medallist in Portland two years ago to champion.
Throwing a world-leading and national record 19.62m, she becomes Hungary’s first ever world indoor champion, with the nation’s previous best result at this competition Márton’s silver in 2016.
Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd was the early leader, as she threw 18.92m in the first round, while Márton recorded 18.29m.
China’s reigning world outdoor champion Gong Lijiao had fouled her first attempt but moved into the lead with her second-round throw of 18.98m.
But in round three Márton responded with 19.48m which put her ahead. That mark would have been enough for victory but, with the title secured, she saved her best until last and launched the shot put to 19.62m.
Thomas-Dodd improved her national record to 19.22m in the third round, which secured her silver, while Gong got the bronze, improving to 19.08m in the final round.
“It is an historic moment for my team because it is the first world indoor gold for Hungary,” said Márton. “I was second in Portland so I was hoping I could show something.
“The Chinese are very good competitors so I’m really glad I managed to beat Gong, but I am sure we will stay friends. Shot putters are very close. We are like family.”
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“I did my best on my last throw and that’s my special thing!” – World indoor shot put champion Anita Marton on saving her best until last at @wicbirmingham2018. Check out our website to read a report on this evening’s thrilling shot put competition! #iaafworlds #wicbham2018 #anitamarton #shotput
The fifth heptathlon event, the high jump, was dominated by Maicel Uibo’s 2.17m which was a class apart from the rest and moved him up to third with 3436 points.
Kevin Mayer of France retained the lead with a 2.02m jump to hold the lead overnight on 3536 points with Damian Warner matching that height to complete the day on 3491 points.
Kai Kazmirek is still in the medal hunt after a 2.05m gave him 3422 points.
» For full coverage, see the March 8 issue of Athletics Weekly