Ivana Spanovic in the long jump at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018
At the last IAAF World Indoor Championships, in Portland in 2016, Ivana Spanovic had the title in her grasp until the penultimate jump of the competition. The Serb was sitting pretty in gold medal position with a 7.07m jump – until Brittney Reese, the US jumper known as The Beast since her collegiate days as an all-conquering sporting all-rounder, unleashed a 7.22m championship record.
Two years on, it was a different story. A bronze or silver medallist at five successive global championships until she missed bronze by one centimetre at last year’s world championships in London, Spanovic finally stepped up to the gold standard.
The 27-year-old, the European champion indoors and out, threw down the gauntlet with a 6.89m effort in the first round, snatching the lead from last year's US collegiate champion Quanesha Burks, who opened with a PB of 6.81m.
Reese, seeking a fourth world indoor title to match her world outdoor tally, opened with 6.76m and only made a one centimetre in round three before grasping the lead with 6.89m in the fourth round.
Spanovic responded with 6.96m, a three centimetre advance on her 2017 world lead. Reese could not venture any farther, jumping 6.72m and 6.64m with her last two efforts. Germany’s Sosthene Moguenara-Taroum had moved up into third with a second round 6.85m and stayed there.
Spanovic could afford the luxury of passing her final two attempts before celebrating her first global title, with Reese taking silver with her 6.89m and Burks down in fourth with her opening 6.81m.
"I still cannot believe it even though I was preparing myself for it,” said Spanovic. “Last time I lost the world indoor title in the final attempts, so I just wanted to stay focused and waited until the very end.
"I have tried to win this title so many times and finally I managed to produce gold. Brittney Reese is a huge personality. She is a special athlete.
"We had the same goal and it was a tough battle. But I am happy she is here. She is pushing me forward and I like competing against her."
Silver was little consolation to Reese. "I'm not happy with my performance,” she confessed. “Ivana got the better of me. I'm a little disappointed but I can go home with something.
"I don't feel like I performed to my best today. I beat myself.”
In contrast, Moguenara-Taroum was overjoyed with bronze.
"It's incredible, “ she said. “I'm so happy right now. I got my first indoor medal. I'm feeling blessed."
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF