Brittney Reese at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
In the stadium where she won Olympic long jump gold five years ago, Brittney Reese of the United States claimed her fourth world title after a third-round effort of 7.02m earned her victory in a hugely competitive final.
The 30-year-old from Mississippi, whose only other scoring effort was a first round leap of 6.75, dedicated her victory to her grandfather, who had died two weeks earlier. In her sombre post-race activity, she displayed the words that had been written on the inside of her vest number – “RIP Paw Paw.”
Silver went to Darya Klishina, competing here as a neutral athlete, after she had put together four successive season’s bests, the longest of them – 7.00m exactly – enabling her to finish above the defending champion Tianna Bartoletta, who saved her best for last, as she had in earning this title two years ago, but found it fell short of her ambition at 6.97m.
That, however, was enough to depose the earlier leader, Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, from a medal place by just one centimetre.
"I'm really glad and I'm really happy,” said Klishina, the only athlete competing under a neutral banner at last year’s Rio Games. “This is my first medal from a world championships, and, for me, it's my most important result. I didn't jump seven metres for six years and I just missed those longer jumps.
"I was waiting many years (for seven metres). I wanted to show this result in an Olympic Games, but I did not have a chance with the whole situation around me. Now it was the right time, at a world championships, to jump this.
"I was enjoying this championships and it was without any nerves -- for the first time in my life. It was good for me and I could be focused on just my result."
Meanwhile the beaten champion lamented: "I just didn't get any rhythm. I was just too late on the board and I couldn't hit it right. I kept trying to stay mentally strong throughout the competition and it got me a medal but I'm disappointed that I couldn't deliver my true form."
This final had a lot to live up to given that the competition in Beijing, and last year’s Olympic final in Rio, reached competitive heights never previously reached in this discipline.
In 2015, Bartoletta produced a final round effort of 7.14m to take gold – ten years after she had won her first world title as an unheralded 19-year-old in Helsinki - from Shara Proctor, who ended with silver in a British record of 7.07m, with Spanovic also setting a national record of 7.01m to claim bronze.
The Olympic final was even more spectacular as Bartoletta claimed another global gold with a personal best of 7.17m in the fifth round before her compatriot Reese, the defending champion, came within two centimetres of that mark in her final jump to claim silver ahead of Spanovic, who raised her national record to 7.08m in claiming another bronze.
All three Olympic medallists were involved in this final, but it was Klishina, carefully overseen by the coach who trains her in the United States, Loren Seagrave, who took an early lead with 6.78m.
A leap of 6.96m in the second round projected Spanovic into the lead, although Klishina improved again to 6.88m.
Britain’s Lorraine Ugen, meanwhile, was living dangerously as a second foul put her in danger of failing to make the cut for the final eight after three rounds – as happened to her in Rio. But her third effort raised the white flag and 6.72m moved her up into fourth place, eventually earning her a final position of fifth place.
Bartoletta’s five scoring jumps progressed upwards from 6.56m. Standing in fourth place before her final effort – before which she was obliged to wait as the men’s hammer field was announced – she rose to the challenge like the champion she is, landing on her feet as neatly as a gymnast, but was only able to displace one of the three women above her.
Spanovic, who won the European indoor title in her native Belgrade earlier this year with a national record of 7.24m, appeared to have reclaimed a place on the podium with her final effort, only to find it was 6.91m, five centimetres less than her previous best.
Pictures appeared to show that the bib on her back may have indented the sand for the scoring mark.
Klishina, displaced to third by successive jumps from Spanovic and Reese, restored herself to silver with the best effort of a superbly consistent sequence.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF