Wang Jianan in the long jump at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© AFP / Getty Images)
Hayward Field has proven to be a very happy hunting ground for China’s Wang Jianan. The 25-year-old claimed the world U20 long jump title in Eugene in 2014 and eight years later he has become the senior champion, jumping 8.36m in the final round to deny Miltiadis Tentoglou another global gold at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
For much of the competition, Tentoglou had looked on course to complete a major gold medal set that includes Olympic and world indoor titles plus European wins both indoors and out. Much to the delight of the home crowd, USA's Steffin McCarter had got the first eight metre-plus jump of the competition, leaping 8.04m in the second round, and that seemed to spur Tentoglou into action. The Greek 24-year-old soared 8.30m in response to kick start a consistent series that continued with leaps of 8.29m, 8.24m and then his eventual silver medal-winning mark of 8.32m.
In the meantime, Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer had gone out to 8.16m in the second round and was eyeing a podium place, looking to become the first active decathlete to win a senior individual global medal in another discipline.
But Wang was waiting patiently for his time to shine. With a best of 8.03m in the third round, a result he repeated in the fifth, Wang was in fifth place with one attempt remaining. After landing in the sand he leapt straight back up again, staring across at the scoreboard to see his jump confirmed as 8.36m – putting him four centimetres ahead of Tentoglou. He then faced a nervous wait to see if that mark – just 11 centimetres off the joint national record he jumped in 2018 – would remain enough to take the title.
His rivals were unable to respond and then Tentoglou lined up for his final attempt. Wang and Ehammer stood side by side out on the track, joining in the rhythmic clap as Tentoglou took to the runway. His jump was good, but not enough – 8.20m seeing his unbeaten record this season come to an end.
A second senior global medal after his world bronze on home soil in Beijing in 2015, Wang adds this performance to a CV that also includes fifth place at the Rio Olympics in 2016, sixth and seventh respectively at the 2019 and 2017 World Championships and eighth back in Oregon at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland.
“I came to Eugene with the biggest aim of making the podium here,” said Wang. “That is why I was a little bit disappointed after five rounds, having a best result of 8.03m.
“Seeing my result (8.36m) on the screen, I couldn't believe that it was possible. Then I recognised that my gold in Eugene is the greatest achievement ever for a Chinese long jumper at the World Championships. These thoughts made me really very proud. It looks like Eugene isn't only a lucky town for me, but something like a second home.”
A former decathlete, Wang scored 7063 points in the senior 10-event discipline at the age of 15 before switching his focus to the long jump. Prior to the Oregon World Championships, he had competed just once outdoors this year, jumping 7.67m at the Stars and Stripes Classic in Marietta at the start of July.
While Wang has moved on from the decathlon, Ehammer continues to show his strength in both events. Targeting both the World Championships and the European Championships this summer, he decided to contest the single discipline in Oregon and will return to 10-event competition in Munich next month.
The 22-year-old’s long jump PB stands at 8.45m – the Swiss record and current world lead – and what makes that all the more impressive it that he achieved it as part of a decathlon, en route to his 8377-point Swiss record to win in Gotzis in May. It improved his own world decathlon long jump best set in Ratingen just three weeks earlier by 15 centimetres.
And his long jump focus in Oregon paid off, gaining him a second senior global medal to go with the world indoor heptathlon silver he claimed in Belgrade in March.
When it comes to multiple major medals, Tentoglou has quite the set and had hoped to become the first athlete to ever win the men’s long jump at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, European Championships and European Indoor Championships.
“I came here for the gold and I couldn't jump over 8.45m,” he said. “Nothing worked out for me. Yes, I'm still Olympic and world indoor champion, but I'm really sad that I lost my greatest chance to become world champion. On the other hand, we don't need to wait two years for another one (World Championships). So, I'm looking forward to Budapest 2023 – it’s only one year away.”
In a competitive final, Cuba’s Olympic bronze medallist Maykel Masso missed out on another medal by just a single centimetre, leaping 8.15m. USA’s McCarter finished fifth with his second-round 8.04m, while his compatriot Marquis Dendy, the 2016 world indoor champion, was sixth with 8.02m.
Leaping 7.96m to finish seventh, Murali Sreeshankar matched the best ever men’s event placing by an Indian athlete at the World Athletics Championships.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
|MEN'S LONG JUMP MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Wang Jianan 🇨🇳 CHN||8.36m SB|
|🥈||Miltiadis Tentoglou 🇬🇷 GRE||8.32m|
|🥉||Simon Ehammer 🇨🇭 SUI||8.16m|