Kyle Blignaut in the shot put at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018
The expected shot put duel between USA’s Adrian Piperi and South Africa’s Kyle Blignaut did not disappoint.
Piperi, the world U20 leader with the senior weight shot, led the morning’s qualifying round by more than a metre with 21.42m. Blignaut, the world U20 leader with the 6kg implement, hit the exact automatic qualifying mark of 19.60m to safely book his place in the final.
In the final, 2015 world U18 champion Piperi opened his series with 20.73m to take a brief early lead, but Blignaut ended the round as the leader after opening with 20.89m.
Having set a PB of 20.16m in the qualifying round, Aleh Tamasevich of Belarus improved again in the first round of the final with 20.37m. Odysseas Mouzenidis of Greece also opened with a big throw but it was ruled a foul.
Dzimitry Karpuk bumped his Belarusian compatriot out of a podium position with his 20.84m effort in round two, moving into second place. Piperi threw 20.83m but remained in third place, while Mouzenidis recorded a valid effort of 20.59m to move into fourth place. Blignaut, meanwhile, extended his lead with 21.12m.
In round three, Piperi joined Blignaut as the only man to land a shot beyond the 21-metre line, moving into second place with 21.01m. He was once again bumped down, though, as Mouzenidis sent his shot out to 21.07m with the very next throw of the competition.
None of the eight men remaining in the competition improved in round four, but it proved to be the calm before the storm.
Piperi paced into the circle in round five and launched his shot way beyond the 21-metre line. Seconds later, ’22.06m’ flashed up on the scoreboard and Piperi roared with delight at having taken the lead with a North American U20 record.
Adding 56 centimetres to his previous best, Piperi leapt to fifth on the world U20 all-time list – momentarily, at least.
A fired-up Blignaut stepped into the circle moments later and produced an almost identical throw. Another anxious wait followed before it was confirmed that Blignaut had stolen back the lead by one centimetre with 22.07m, a 42-centimetre improvement on his previous PB.
Neither athlete improved with their final attempt, Piperi throwing 21.58m and Blignaut reaching 21.18m. Blignaut’s victory was confirmed and he becomes the first African athlete to win a world U20 shot put title.
“Adrian brought the best out of me with that big shot,” said Blignaut.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF