Barbados’ Akela Jones was a non-starter in the final of the high jump at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last night.
Jones, who had met the qualifying standard for the final from 29 other entrants, is believed to have been nursing an injury. She had last week won the long jump gold medal but opted not to jump at the last minute yesterday.
Great Britain’s Morgan Lake made good on her second shot at world junior gold, clearing the high bar at 1.93m to secure the victory and a second title four days after her heptathlon triumph on Wednesday.
Of the four women who attempted 1.91m, Lake and the Czech Republic’s Michaela Hruba were the only ones to clear it, Lake on her first attempt and Hruba on her third. It was a Czech junior record for 16-year-old Hruba.
Lake, whose heptathlon high jump clearance was 1.94m, went on to make three attempts at 1.97m, which would have been a national senior record had she achieved it.
Bronze went to Russia’s Irina Ilieva at 1.88m. Rachel McCoy of the USA also cleared 1.88m but had one more miss at 1.85m, so she finished fourth behind Ilieva.
Lake was the first and only double gold medallist in individual events.
Meanwhile championship records from US hurdler Kendell Williams and Cuban triple jumper Lazaro Martinez provided the highlights of the final day yesterday.
Williams overhauled her compatriot Dior Hall off the last barrier of a thrilling race to win the 100m hurdles in a championship record of 12.89, equalling the fifth-fastest junior time ever and just 0.05 away from the world junior record of 12.84, which has been on the books since 1987 in the name of Cuba’s Aliuska Lopez.
Hall had a superb start and led for nine of the ten hurdles but had to settle for second, albeit in a personal best of 12.92.
Martinez, amazingly still only 16 but already a seasoned veteran in some respects after three appearances in the IAAF Diamond League this summer, confirmed his pre-competition status as the favourite and reinforced his country’s excellence in the triple jump.
Martinez was on fire from his opening jump, landing at a championship record of 17.08m, four centimetres farther than his countryman Yoelbi Quesada’s mark set in 1992.
He sealed his victory with 17.13m, another championship record, in the following round.
After a foul with his next attempt and passes in the fourth and fifth rounds, he ended his series with a valedictory 16.39m.
Germany’s Max Hess finished second with a personal best of 16.55m in the second round but was more than half a metre behind the classy Cuban.
The two middle-distance gold medals went to a pair of athletes who were prohibitive favourites.
After leading the field through 400m in a phenomenally fast 49.42, Kenya’s 17-year-old Alfred Kipketer showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels over the second leg to win in a world junior leading 1:43.95, just 0.16 away from the championship best of 1:43.79 set by Botswana’s Nijel Amos in Barcelona two years ago.
Second was another Kenyan, Joshua Masikonde, in 1:45.14 and the first seven men home all registered personal best times.
Dawit Seyaum, the only junior this year to have run faster than four minutes, front-ran her way to gold in the women’s 1500m with equal authority.
She was in the lead at the 800m mark, passed in 2:17.13, and despite being occasionally challenged by her compatriot Gudaf Tsegay over the last two laps, Seyaum never looked seriously threatened and won in 4:09.86.
Tsegay was just under a second behind in 4:10.83 and took the silver medal.
However, not every event went according to form yesterday.
Barnabas Kipyego turned the tables on his more highly rated compatriot Titus Kibiego, the Kenyan trials winner, in the men’s 3000m steeplechase and sprinted away from his team-mate down the home straight to win in 8:25.57 with Kibiego second in 8:26.15.
Latvian javelin thrower Gatis Cakss caused the biggest surprise of the final day.
Lying down in fifth place, and ranked only eighth in the world ahead of the final, Cakss hurled his last attempt out to 74.04m to move into pole position and none of the four men left to throw could respond, including Slovenia’s Matija Muhar, the 2014 world junior leader with 75.38m.
Muhar had to settle for second with 72.97m, which he threw in the second round, and fouled the very last throw of the competition in his last-gasp bid to retain the lead.
As is traditional at major international championships, the curtain came down with the 4x400m relays.
For the seventh consecutive championships, the US women won their event coming home in a 2014 world junior-leading time of 3:30.42.
Shamier Little, the 400m hurdles champion, took the first leg and got to the exchange first. Olivia Baker on the second leg got to the break in front and barring accidents, that was almost the end of the show.
However, there were no stumbles or dropped batons to open the door to any of the US quartet’s rivals.
Shakima Wimbley and individual 400m champion Kendall Baisden combined to come home comfortably ahead of silver medallists Great Britain.
The US men won the very last of the 44 gold medals on offer across the six days in a similar commanding fashion in 3:03.31.
Josephus Lyles put the US squad in front on the first leg and the men that followed – Tyler Brown, Rick Morgan and Michael Cherry – didn’t relinquish that lead.
After six days of the championships, the host nation was a clear leader in the medal tables with 11 gold medals, five silver and five bronze for a total of 21 medals. It was the most medals they had ever won and just one shy of the best ever medal haul at the World Junior Championships, 22 from the USSR in 1988.
Distance running powerhouse Kenya finished second with four gold medals and 16 medals in total.
Overall 21 different national anthems were heard in Hayward Field since the start of the championships and 40 IAAF member federations had athletes stand on the medal podium.
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