Pedro Pablo Pichardo stamped his authority on the triple jump competition from his very first jump and ended up improving both the meeting and stadium records with his winning effort of 17.96m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday (4).
The 21-year-old Cuban may not yet have surpassed Jonathan Edwards’ long-standing world record of 18.29m but he did beat one of the Briton’s slightly inferior marks, the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meeting record of 17.60m which had stood since 1998.
Into the bargain, the stadium record – formerly 17.92m and owned by Bulgaria’s Khristo Markov since he won at the 1987 IAAF World Championships – also fell to Pichardo.
Excitement had been building all week that Italy may witness its first 18-metre jump and even if, in the end, it was not to be, it was still an outstanding performance by the world silver medallist and 2012 world junior champion.
This season, Pichardo has strung together four successive victories with stunning winning marks of 17.94m, 18.06m, 18.08m and 17.96m. No other athlete has ever had more than two competitions beyond 17.94m in the same season aside from Jonathan Edwards in 1995 and 1998.
By his current standards, things started off relatively modestly for Pichardo with a first-round leap of just 17.58m but in the following round he exploded out to 17.96m.
In a bid to go even farther, he fouled his third effort, had two passes and then again fouled his last attempt, but it was still a performance that many local athletics fans will remember for a long time.
“For me, the track was just a little bit too hard,” said the affable Cuban. “I was aiming for 18 metres but I did get close to it. And I got the meeting and stadium record, so I didn’t disappoint the organisers.
“To be honest, when I came here I didn’t know what the records were. It was only when I got told after the press conference the day before that I knew what my target was.”
As evidence of his dominance, Pichardo’s nearest rival was almost a metre in arrears. His compatriot Alexis Copello was the only other man beyond 17 metres, finishing second with 17.15m.
Pichardo’s next competition is expected to be the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York on 13 June.
Two world-leading times were set in the women’s middle and long-distance events.
Jenny Simpson found another gear with the line in sight in the women’s 1500m, going from third to first in last 15 metres and going past first Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum and then the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.
Simpson became the first woman to run faster than four minutes this year when she stopped the clock in 3:59.31 with European champion Hassan second in 3:59.68 and the Ethiopian teenager Seyaum third in 3:59.76.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Hyvin Kiyeng took almost seven seconds off her personal best to win in 9:15.08 and come home ahead of her Kenyan compatriot Virginia Nyambura, who caused a sensation when winning in Doha after being the designated pacemaker.
Nymabura, having taken more than 30 seconds off her best in Doha, made a further improvement by more than five seconds when she finished second in 9:15.75.
Also over the barriers, Johnny Dutch made it back-to-back IAAF Diamond League wins in the 400m hurdles. He added to the four Diamond Race points he acquired in Eugene with a win in a season’s best of 48.13, coming home strongly over the final three hurdles.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF