Fabrice Lapierre in the long jump at the IAAF World Indoor Championships
The qualifying distance was set at 8.05m and the first man to nail it was not one of the fancied pre-championship medal contenders but a man who instantly catapulted himself into local athletics folklore: Adrian Strzalkowski.
Strzalkowski had not ventured beyond eight metres before but with his first-round effort, the 23-year-old Pole uncorked a stunning 8.18m.
It drew a huge roar from the home crowd in the Ergo Arena, and understandably so. It represented a national indoor record as well as a 22cm improvement for Strzalkowski, the 2013 Francophone Games champion.
Not until the third and final round did a second automatic qualifier emerge. Christian Reif, the 2010 European champion from Germany, uncorked an 8.13m, just two centimetres short of his indoor personal best.
With that, the floodgates opened somewhat. Greece’s Louis Tsatoumas jumped 8.10m then China’s Li Jinzhe and Sweden’s Michel Torneus leapt 8.08m.
The other three men in Saturday’s will include Russia’s world champion Aleksandr Menkov, who settled for an opening round of 8.04m and then declined to take another attempt,
Menkov heads the 2014 world indoor lists with 8.30m. Brazil’s defending champion Mauro Da Silva and Mexico’s world bronze medallist Luis Rivera complete the finalists.
USA's Tyron Stewart and Zimbabwe's US-based Ngonidzashe Makusha have both jumped well beyond eight metres this year but that sort of form deserted them in Sopot and they failed to make the final.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF