Wilhem Belocian carried on the French tradition of producing outstanding hurdlers – think Guy Drut, Ladji Doucoure and the number one man in the world at the moment Pascal Martinot-Lagarde – when he became the first junior athlete to run the 110m hurdles faster than 13 seconds with a world junior record of 12.99.
Belocian’s time over the 99cm barriers meant that world junior records (subject to ratification) have been set on successive days at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014, after the 10,000m race walk standard was improved by Czech Republic’s Anezka Drahotova on Tuesday.
The European junior champion stormed out of the blocks first and the teenage talent steadily increased his lead with a seamless run over the 10 hurdles, with a 0.5m/s tailwind.
Belocian had talked about setting a world junior record from the start of the year and had clocked a European junior record of 13.15 recently but his margin of improvement over the previous world record of 13.14, set by the USA’s Eddie Lovett in 2011, was still jaw-dropping.
As Lovett’s 13.14 was slower than Liu Xiang’s 13.12 over the senior hurdles, his mark was not an official world junior record. In 2009 Wayne Davis clocked 13.08, but that was never ratified. But as Belocian’s mark is quicker than all three of those performances, now there is no doubt over what the world junior record is.
Jamaica’s Tyler Mason made up some ground in the second half of the race and on another day might have had a gold medal hung around his neck after a sparkling area junior record run of 13.06, the second-fastest time in history by a junior, but he had to settle for the silver medal on Thursday.
However, the cheers that heralded Belocian’s feat were dozens of decibels lower than the thunderous roar that greeted the home hero Mary Cain as the US talent sprinted away from two Kenyan rivals down the home straight at the end of the 3000m.
Cain, a 1500m finalist at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, went through the gears off the last bend to win in a personal best of 8:58.48.
After setting national and world junior records at a variety of middle distances in the last 12 months or so, many wondered why Cain would take her chances over 3000m, at what was presumed to be the extreme of her range.
In response, Cain said at the pre-event press conference that she wanted to “mix it up and have some fun”.
Clearly, she did both in Eugene and got a world title into the bargain, becoming the first US woman to win a medal of any colour at an event longer than 800m at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and her Kenyan team mate Valentina Chepkwemoi Mateiko chased Cain home and took silver and bronze respectively in 9:00.53 and 9:00.79.
Golds go around the globe
The destinations of the nine titles, and other medals, decided on the third day of the championships showed the global reach of the sport.
Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago won over one lap of the track and crossed the line in 45.13, the fastest junior time in the world this year and a national junior record.
He dominated the race from the gun and won by more than a second.
Wang Jianan led the first Asian men’s field event medal sweep in the history of the championships when he won the long jump with 8.08m.
The Asian champion was the only man to jump over eight metres in the final.
His compatriot, the 2011 world youth champion Lin Qing, jumped for joy after his opening leap of 7.94m, but Wang moved into the lead with 8.07m in the second round, just three centimetres shy of his personal best, and improved by one centimetre with his following effort.
Japan’s Shotaro Shiroyama completed the Asian sweep and a wind-assisted 7.83m, also with his opening attempt.
A shock to rival Trayvon Bromell’s defeat in the men’s 100m on Wednesday occurred in the women’s 800m when Margaret Nyairera Wambui ran the race of her life, three seconds faster than her previous lifetime best which she set in her semi-final, as she won over two laps of the track in an African youth best of 2:00.49.
Unknown outside of her local area before a few months ago, the 17-year-old sprinted away from Cuba’s pre-race favourite Sahily Diago, attacking from 70 metres out before claiming Kenya’s fourth junior title in the women’s 800m but the first one in 12 years.
About 40 minutes later, Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe added a second gold medal for Kenya on a night when he powered away from his team mate Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich in the final 100m of the men’s 1500m to win in 3:40.02.
Ngetich, the silver medallist two years ago, was overhauled by Djibouti’s Abdi Waiss Mouhyadin in the final few metres, as the latter got the silver in 3:41.38 while Ngetich this time finished third in 3:41.61.
Russia reigns in the women’s field events
Russia’s European junior pole vault champion Alena Lutkovskaya added a global title to her list of accolades when she prevailed in arguably the most competitive junior women’s contest ever.
Lutkovskaya equalled the championship record with a personal best of 4.50m while Desiree Freier improved her US junior record with 4.45m on her 18th birthday and in the process won her country’s first medal in the women’s pole vault in the history of the championships.
Another gold medal went to Russia in the women’s javelin when Ekaterina Starygina threw 56.85m with the final throw of a thrilling competition to defeat Sweden’s defending champion Sofi Flink.
Flink took an early lead with a first-round throw of 55.29m throw but she was surpassed in the second round by Starygina, who reached 55.98m.
In the sixth round, Flink delivered a 56.70m throw which moved her into the lead but then Starygina delivered her response by hurling her implement out to a winning distance and grab the gold medal in dramatic fashion.
In sharp contrast to the women’s field events, the first gold medal to be decided on Thursday was the men’s shot put and Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki tossed the 6kg implement out to a massive 22.06m in the second round to kill the competition stone dead.
He didn’t improve but was ahead of the best of the rest by nearly two metres.
Bukowiecki’s effort, decimating his previous best of 21.39m, was the second longest in IAAF World Junior Championships history, bettered only by New Zealander Jacko Gill’s championship record of 22.20m in 2012; only Gill and David Storl of Germany have ever done better with the 6kg shot.
Remarkably, Bukowiecki is still only 17 and will be eligible to defend his title in two years’ time.
With two more years left in the junior ranks, Gill’s world junior record of 23.00m now also becomes a realistic target.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF