Yanis David in the long jump at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
In the 30-year history of the IAAF World U20 Championships, France had never won a medal in the women’s long jump, but all that changed on Friday night (22) as Yanis David ended the drought in exquisite fashion.
In her very first jump of the competition, David charged down the runway, sprang off the board and floated to the lead with a mark of 6.42m, a jump that would prove good enough for gold. What’s more, her teammate Hilary Kpatcha joined her on the medal rostrum, taking the bronze medal with a PB of 6.33m.
Germany’s Sophie Weissenberg took the silver medal with a best of 6.40m. “It’s not frustrating that I missed the gold medal by two centimetres,” said Weissenberg. “The only thing I feel is happiness.”
David, a Guadeloupe native who attends the University of Florida, proved a wildly popular champion with the trackside crowd. Before every jump, a horde of teammates clapped and chanted their support from beside the pit, willing their support to their 18-year-old countrywoman, who also qualified for the triple jump final on Friday morning.
“I was not expecting this win,” she said. “I was a bit tired from the triple jump qualifications this morning but I managed it.”
The strongest challenge to her came in the very first round, with Weissenberg leaping 6.40m to take close order in the silver medal position. Kpatcha opened her account with 6.26m and the trio remained in that order until the end of the competition.
Kpatcha added to her cushion in the bronze medal position in the second round, adding two centimetres to her PB with a leap of 6.33m.
USA’s Bria Matthews moved up to fourth position in the second round with a jump of 6.24m, but was bumped down to fifth by Sweden’s Kaiza Karlen, who jumped 6.25m in the very next round.
As the leading six took their fourth and final efforts, the French contingent broke into song once again. With none of the French pair’s international counterparts able to summon anything better than in previous rounds, David and Kpatcha were left to celebrate their gold and bronze medals respectively. “It’s a surprise for me because I wasn’t one of the favourites,” said Kpatcha.
As the tears began to flow for David, she joined her teammates for an impromptu rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
And having led France’s charge to two medals in the long jump, can David now make it two medals for herself in Saturday’s triple jump final?
“It’s my last meet of the year, so I will try as hard as I can,” she said. “I know I can win a medal.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF