Lazaro Martinez on his way to gold in the triple jump at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Bydgoszcz, Poland

Preview: men's triple jump – IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016

The men’s triple jump looks set to be one of the most exciting contests of the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016.

Two years ago in Eugene, Cuba’s Lazaro Martinez – aged just 16 at the time – landed the world U20 title with a leap of 17.13m, just 11 centimetres shy of the world U18 best he had set earlier that year.

Now aged 18, Martinez will defend his title in Bydgoszcz and will aim to become the first athlete in history to win back-to-back titles in a men’s jumping event at the World U20 Championships.

But the one man who could get in the way of Lazaro achieving his dream is a fellow Cuban: Cristian Napoles.

One year younger than Martinez, Napoles won the world U18 title last year. Up until recently, Martinez had won all of their encounters to date, but in Havana last month Napoles landed his first victory over Martinez, jumping a lifetime best of 16.92m to finish two centimetres ahead of his domestic rival.

It may only be two centimetres, but it was a victory nonetheless and a confidence-boosting one at that.

The competition could be more than just a clash between the reigning world U20 and U18 champions, though.

Azerbaijan’s Nazim Babayev is the European junior champion. He has a best of 17.04m, set last year, and finished eighth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016. His best jump this year is 16.83m, which puts him right behind the Cuban duo on the 2016 world U20 list.

European junior bronze medallist Pavlo Beznis of Ukraine looks to be peaking at the right time. In his last competition before heading to Bydgoszcz, he set a lifetime best of 16.55m.

Other athletes who could challenge for a medal include Melvin Raffin of France, Jamaica’s O’Brien Wasome, US junior champion Charles Brown and Youth Olympic champion Miguel van Assen of Suriname.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF