Karyna Taranda in the high jump at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Roger Sedres)
The expected high jump duel between Karyna Taranda of Belarus and Maria Fernanda Murillo became a three-way battle when Ireland’s Sommer Lecky jumped into medal contention.
Taranda and Murillo went to Tampere with season’s bests of 1.90m, the best of the field. Lecky, who was considered an outside chance of a medal, added four centimetres to her championship best to split the two favourites.
Taranda ultimately came away with the title, setting a PB of 1.92m. Murillo, meanwhile, took the bronze medal behind Lecky, both ending with bests of 1.90m.
Ten of the 12 finalists were still active as the bar moved up to 1.87m. Cuba’s Isis Guerra was the first to go clear at that height, maintaining her clean scorecard. Taranda and Murillo also got over it on their first try. Murillo, who had no failures up until that point, shared the lead with Guerra, while Taranda was in third, having failed once at her opening height of 1.75m.
Lecky, Lithuania’s Urte Baikstyte and Mariya Kochanova needed two attempts to negotiate 1.87m while Maja Helena Nilsson got over it on her third try, leaving seven women in the competition.
Lecky, who had already added a centimetre to her own Irish U20 record by clearing the previous height, set another lifetime best by clearing 1.90m on her first height. Taranda also got over it on her first try to take the overall lead, while Murillo cleared it on her second attempt to equal her own South American U20 record.
The four other remaining finalists were unable to clear 1.90m, meaning the three medallists had been decided. The only remaining question was whether the finishing order would change as the bar moved to 1.92m.
Taranda was the only athlete to clear 1.92m. Lecky and Murillo both came close on their final attempts but were ultimately unsuccessful. It meant Taranda was confirmed as the gold medallist with Lecky taking silver and Murillo bronze. It was the first time since 2004 that all three medallists jumped 1.90m or higher.
Taranda had the bar moved up to 1.95m but didn’t manage to clear it. Nevertheless, she was happy to become the first Belarusian winner of the women’s high jump at the World U20 Championships.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF