Nineteen-year-old Akela Jones covered herself in glory last night at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Jones made history by becoming the first athlete from Barbados to win a medal at the IAAF Junior Championships when she won the long jump final with a leap of 6.34 metres.
The six-footer took the lead in the opening round with 6.32m and improved to 6.34m into a strong -2.7m/s head wind. It proved to be sufficient for gold although the conditions contributed to it being the shortest winning distance in the history of the World Junior Championships. Jones had finished sixth at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships.
Norway’s Nadia Akpana Assa, who led the qualification with a national junior record of 6.39m, came a close second with 6.31m while Germany’s Maryse Luzolo clinched the bronze medal with 6.24m.
With strong head wind conditions, only half of the 12 finalists managed to jump farther than six metres in the final.
Jones, a former student at Springer Memorial, now becomes a member of a champion trio on the global stage that includes Shane Brathwaite who won the Octathlon title at the World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in 2007, and Ryan Brathwaite who won gold in the 110m hurdles at the 2009 World Championships.
Jones, who recently completed studies at the Oklahoma Baptist University and will be moving on to Kansas State University in September, is also scheduled to compete in the high jump in Oregon.
Barbadian sprinter Levi Cadogan was also in action in the 100m but his 10.39 was only good enough for fourth place. Kendal Williams of the hosts USA ran 10.21 to win the gold medal. He led a USA 1-2 sweep, as teammate Trayvon Bromell – the world junior record holder at 9.97 earlier this season – took second in 10.28. Despite Bromell’s suggestions in a pre-meeting press conference that his record was in jeopardy, cool conditions and a light headwind made a record-quality run unlikely.
Williams got out moderately well, slightly behind Bromell who had the best start. Williams didn’t stay behind Bromell long, beginning to draw away from the pack almost immediately and building his lead throughout the race. Of the eight starters, only Williams ran a personal best; his previous best was 10.23. Bronze went to Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu in 10.34, Japan’s first ever junior medal in the men’s 100m. Kiryu had the second-fastest personal best in the field at 10.01.
Earlier in the day, Cuba’s Sahily Diago had complained about the cold and wet conditions during the 800m semi-finals but still had no problem posting the fastest time of the two races when winning her contest in 2:03:60, more than a second faster than the other semi-final, won by Ethiopia’s Zeyituna Mohammed in 2:04.62.
One slight surprise was that Mohammed’s teammate, world youth silver medallist Dureti Edao, failed to make the final when finishing only fifth in the first semi-final.
Alemitu Haroye continued Ethiopia’s successful tradition in distance running by winning the 5000m title with a time of 15:10.08, the seventh victory for Ethiopian runners in ten editions of the event which came on to the championships programme in 1996.
Haroye led a one-two for her country and outsprinted her teammate Alemitu Hawi in the final stretch to finish barely two seconds outside the championship record, held by their compatriot Genzebe Dibaba who ran 15:08.06 in 2010.
Hawi was rewarded with the silver in 15:10.46, a massive personal best by 25 seconds. Kenya’s world junior cross-country silver medallist Agnes Tirop had to settle for the bronze in 15:43.12, coming home a distant third to repeat her position from two years ago in Barcelona. Stela Chesang ran a Ugandan national junior record of 15:53.85 to finish fourth.
Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith ran 11.23 to take the women’s 100m title in a dominating blocks-to-finish performance.
Asher-Smith, running in lane three, had the third-best reaction to the gun but got out of the blocks in a hurry and was in front after ten metres. At the halfway point, there was daylight between the Briton and her rivals and no doubt who was going to take the gold medal.
Silver went to Ecuador’s Angela Tenorio in 11.39, with USA’s 16-year-old Kaylin Whitney, who will still be eligible to compete at the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships, taking bronze in 11.45.
Meanwhile the IAAF has used the games as an educational conduit to continue its anti-doping fight. It has launched a web app telling the young athletes what they need to know about all aspects of the IAAF’s anti-doping programme and becomes the first international sports federation to launch a standalone app with detailed anti-doping information.
It is free to access and as a web app it is available on desktop computers, smart phones and tablets and can be accessed at: iaaf.org/Antidoping. The launch of the app was deliberately scheduled to coincide with the Oregon Games which end on Sunday
Supporting educational material is being distributed at the championships to educate the new generation of the sport’s stars about anti-doping issues.