Tia Jones, Alexis Duncan, Tobi Amusan and Elvira Herman in the 100m hurdles final at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
It was predicted to be one of the highest-quality races of the championships, and so it proved.
It also produced one of the most surprising finishes.
Two of the entrants for the women’s 100m hurdles had run faster than 13 seconds heading into Bydgoszcz. Both of them went sub-13 again in the final in the Zawisza Stadium, but so too did another three women.
So deep was the quality of the final, world U20 leader Tobi Amusan produced the second-fastest run of her life, but it was only good enough for fifth place. And prodigious US talent Tia Jones, who last month ran a world age-15 best of 12.84, had to settle for bronze.
Instead, it was Elvira Herman of Belarus who kept her cool and maintained her form best, coming through strong over the final few barriers to cross the line first in a championship record of 12.85.
There was a spot of drama at the start as US U20 champion Alexis Duncan appeared to jump the gun. But as the race was called back, the green card was shown and athletes returned to their blocks, ready to go again.
As the race got underway at the second time of asking, Duncan got out best and she led by about a metre over the first few flights of hurdles. Jones, Amusan, Herman and Jamaica’s Rushelle Burton were all level with one another.
At the ninth hurdle, Herman, Jones and Burton drew level with Duncan. By the time of the 10th hurdle, they had passed her and the trio crossed the line seemingly in unison.
After a nervous wait for the confirmation of the results, Herman was declared the winner with a European U20 record of 12.85.
Burton, the biggest surprise performer of the final, took silver with a national U20 record of 12.87, while Jones earned bronze with 12.89.
All three medallists either matched or bettered the previous championship record of 12.89 set two years ago by Kendell Williams. It was also the first time in World U20 Championships history that five women had bettered 13 seconds.
“I’m in a state of total euphoria right now,” said Herman. “You just can’t find emotion like this anywhere else. I set a PB, a national record and championship record! I'm not going to the Olympics, since the qualifying period has already passed, but the next Games are awaiting me.”
Duncan, who had been one of the favourites at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015 before hitting a hurdle, finished just outside the medals here but was rewarded with a PB of 12.93. Amusan was fifth with 12.95.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF