With a mighty boom of his javelin arm, Niklas Kaul clinched a back-from-the dead victory with a world youth best with the current implement standards on a dramatic second day of action at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015, which had as many twists and turns as a Stephen King thriller on Thursday (16).
The tall, languid German survived what had looked a potential fatal blow to his gold medal hopes having split the top of the first hurdle and consequently stumbled through the first event of day two.
He battled on gamely in the 110m hurdles to complete the race in a modest 15.44 and then somehow managed to haul himself out of a deep hole to strike a memorable gold with the significant help of a mighty 78.20m javelin throw.
His overall points total of 8002 shattered Australian Cedric Dubler’s previous world youth best of 7864 to secure the inaugural decathlon title at an IAAF World Youth Championships, which was inevitably also a championship record.
France’s overnight leader Ludovic Besson dislodged the Estonian Hans-Christian Hausenberg from second spot on the podium in the final event to claim silver with a personal best of 7678 with the Estonian, who had led throughout parts of the competition, having to settle for bronze with 7657.
In the opening event of a long and dramatic day, Besson extended his overnight lead to 45 points courtesy of an impressive 110m hurdles personal best of 13.86.
Besson’s nearest pursuer George Patrick ensured he remained in the hunt by also posting a PB of 13.99. Hausenberg, the boy placed third overall, joined the PB club with a time of 14.21.
After six events it was Besson (5099), Patrick (5053) and Hausenberg (5023) occupying the top three positions.
Kaul’s stumble lost him crucial ground as he slipped from fifth to seventh in the overall standings with a total of 4754.
Hausenberg was the big mover in the discus. The Estonian tossed the discus out to a best of 47.22m – the leading throw of the competition – to replace Patrick from second spot in the overall standings.
The Estonian edged to just nine points behind the overall leader Besson, whose best effort was measured at 44.00m. After seven events it was Besson with 5845 points in front, followed by Hausenberg, with Patrick holding bronze on 5752.
The pole vault saw Hausenberg regain the overall lead with a 4.20m effort comparing favourably to Besson’s 4.00m, enabling the Estonian to open up an advantage in the overall standings.
A sixth personal best of the competition for Patrick when he cleared 4.20m also kept the US decathlete in contention in third overall with 6425.
Kaul crept closer back into medal contention ahead of his favoured javelin with a PB of 4.70m, nicely aiding his overall points total which now stood at 6321.
As Kaul boasts a formidable 83.94m javelin personal best, the event was always likely to prove pivotal and so it proved, although both Hausenberg and Besson responded magnificently to the challenge.
The Estonian added more than three metres to his lifetime best with an impressive 61.81m. Besson, meanwhile, obliterated his previous best by more than ten metres with a third-round effort of 54.34m.
At this stage Hausenberg sat on a nine-event total of 7274 to Besson's 7118. Patrick had struggled in the swirling conditions with a modest best of 42.64m to bring his tally to 6905. The trio then faced a nervous wait of about 30 minutes or so until Kaul came to the party throwing in the second group.
He started with a decent opener of 72.74m and ended the competition with a roar, a massive 78.20m effort landing him 1015 points and an overall points tally of 7336, putting him 62 clear of his Estonian rival going into the 1500m.
As Kaul held a far superior PB to Hausenberg in the 1500m, the German was never likely to be threatened in the final event and so it proved.
The gold medallist produced an excellent finale to the competition to run a best of 4:42.29 which helped him to a record-breaking points haul.
Behind Kaul, Basson produced the best 1500m race of his life to drag his fatigued body around the three-and-three-quarter laps of the track in a personal best of 4:59.38, the 563 points gained relegating the suffering Hausenberg to bronze after he trudged home in 5:33.43.
Steve Landells for the IAAF