Capping what may be remembered as the most rapid rise of these championships, Maribel Vanessa Caicedo powered her way to a wholly unexpected victory in the girls’ 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Youth Championships on Thursday (16).
Running confidently in lane four in the very last event of the night, the 17-year-old overcame a cautious start to take a clear lead by the fifth barrier, one she built upon hurdle-by-hurdle en route to a 13.04 victory and Ecuador’s first gold in the history of the IAAF World Youth Championships.
“I am very happy,” said Caicedo, who was barely on the radar coming into these championships but now stands fourth on the girls’ all-time list for the event. “I dreamt a lot about this medal and now it is real.”
Arriving with just a 13.49 best to her name – set in the same stadium when winning the South American youth title last year – she improved to 13.32 when winning her first-round heat on Wednesday but really burst into medal contention after her 13.11 run in the semis.
Suddenly, albeit only for a few minutes, she was the year’s fastest youth sprint hurdler.
“I can’t believe it,” Caicedo said after her semi-final, trying, mostly in vain, to contain her delight.
“It’s a South American record! I worked so hard for this in our training camp in Guayaquil.”
But she readily admitted that it wasn’t a perfect race. “I had some problems at the third hurdle. I hope I can improve in the final.”
Caicedo’s reign atop the yearly list was short-lived as the US pre-championship favourite Alexis Duncan followed up with a sensational 12.95 victory in her semi-final, just .01 shy of Jamaican Yanique Thompson’s world youth best set at the last IAAF World Youth Championships in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk two years ago.
In the final, Duncan got out fast and appeared to be ahead after clearing the second hurdle and starting her charge to glory. But she hit the third just hard enough to break both her rhythm and composure, neither of which she managed to regain.
Caicedo meanwhile forged on without missing a beat to cross the line well clear of USA’s Brittley Humphrey who finished second in 13.22, a performance that took a massive 0.19 from her previous best.
"I’m so happy with this medal,” said Humphrey. “I ran a great time, I didn’t think I could go that fast.”
France’s Sarah Koutouan took the bronze in 13.29, finishing just ahead of team-mate Ilionis Guillaume who clocked 13.31.
Duncan was never in the hunt after her early race misstep and wound up a distant and disappointed seventh in 13.56.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF