Candace Hill after winning the girls' 100m at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 (© Getty Images)
USA’s Candace Hill lived up to her star billing on the second day of the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 and the 16-year-old Georgia high school student flew to victory in the girls’ 100m in a championship best of 11.08 on Thursday night (16).
Hill, who will also compete over 200m later this week, had been touted as a potential star of these championships ever since her world youth best of 10.98 in Seattle last month and on what was a balmy, breezy evening inside the Pascual Guerrero Stadium, she delivered in fine style, becoming the sixth US girl in nine editions to win this title.
“I’m a real world champion,” she said. “It’s so amazing. The moment my season started, I was a bit out of shape. Me and my coach worked on it and I just got better, ran PRs, ran that 10.98, and that gave me confidence coming into this meet. I just had to focus and do my job.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Khalifa St Fort finished second in 11.19, her third personal best of the day.
“I think she (Hill) is a phenomenal athlete,” said St Fort. “I look forward to competing against her again. I think I can go a lot faster.”
Hill was the undisputed star on the track, but Cuba’s Maykel Demetrio Masso and Australia’s Darcy Roper served up an equally exceptional effort in the boys’ long jump, both athletes breaking the eight-metre barrier, something never before accomplished at these championships.
Already leading the competition with a best of 7.79m heading into the fourth round, Masso powered down the runway with a slight following wind of 0.5m/s and sailed to a championship best performance of 8.05m.
After that, gold was seemingly assured but Australia’s Darcy Roper – who had led the qualifying rounds with a 7.88m effort – had other ideas.
In the final round, the 17-year-old produced a lifetime best of 8.01m to take silver from Brazil’s Eberson Silva, who finished third with 7.76m.
For Roper, any sadness about finishing second was forgotten when he considered the level of performance he had just produced in defeat. “I’m an eight-metre man, so I’m not disappointed,” he said. “It would have been great to get the gold. I came here to win and give those Cubans a good go, but an Australian [youth] record, it’s amazing.”
Dream comes true for Caicedo
The girls’ 100m hurdles produced one of the biggest shocks of the championships, Ecuador’s Maribel Vanessa Caicedo scorching to gold in 13.04, her country’s first triumph in the 16-year history of this event.
“I am very happy,” said Caicedo, who was barely on the radar coming into these championships. “I dreamt a lot about this medal and now it is real.”
The US pre-meeting favourite Alexis Duncan blitzed her semi-final, winning in 12.95 which was the second-fastest time ever by a girl, but in the final her gold medal aspirations were dashed in an instant when she hit the third hurdle, which saw her eventually fade to seventh.
USA’s Brittley Humphrey finished second in 13.22, a performance that knocked off 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.”
In the boys’ decathlon, Germany’s Niklas Kaul overcame a near-fatal blow to his title hopes in the 110m hurdles after smashing the first barrier and trailing home seventh in 15.44, but he cleared 4.70m in the pole vault and then launched the javelin out to a massive 78.20m.
In the end, that throw proved crucial and he went on to take gold with a total of 8002 points, which smashed Australia’s Cedric Dubler’s previous world youth best of 7864 with the current implement standards and secured him the inaugural decathlon title at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
The gold medallist produced an excellent finale to the competition to run a personal best of 4:42.29 for 1500m.
Overnight leader Ludovic Besson of France dislodged the Estonian Hans-Christian Hausenberg from second spot on the podium in the final event to claim silver with a PB of 7678 with the Estonian having to settle for bronze with 7657 after suffering a slight leg injury midway through the second day.
Ritter adds her name to roll of honour
In the girls’ shot put, Germany’s Julia Ritter came out on top in a to-and-fro battle with the USA’s Sophia Rivera which saw them exchange the lead five times in the opening rounds.
In the end, Ritter’s third-round effort of 18.34m proved too much for the US thrower and she extended her lead in the following round with a personal best put of 18.53m.
“I cannot believe this,” said Ritter, after adding two centimetres to her previous best. “After the first attempt I thought that I would get nothing, but then I threw 17 metres and then the personal best. Now I know how Robert Harting and David Storl feel after such a success.”
Silver medallist Rivera, meanwhile, had a valid excuse for defeat. While the shot put was taking place, she was simultaneously competing in the javelin final at the other end of the field, in which she finished a respectable eighth.
“I was only second, but I enjoyed it,” said Rivera. “And I would do it all again to compete in both finals.”
To accommodate her unique double duty, Rivera was accompanied by an official between competition areas where her quick preparation required, among other things, changing her shoes.
Kristina Rakocevic became the first double medallist at Cali 2015, adding a bronze medal thanks to a best of 17.49m to her discus silver from Wednesday.
In the girls’ javelin, Haruka Kitaguchi gave Japan their first throwing title in the history of the IAAF World Youth Championships.
The 17-year-old took gold courtesy of a huge fifth-round effort of 60.35m, a personal best which left her more than three metres clear of her closest rival.
With that throw, Kitaguchi usurped Norway’s Stella Weinberg, who had thrown a personal best of 57.11m in the third round, which proved to be her best on the night.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF