Claudio Romero in the discus at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 (© Getty Images)
In a thrilling discus battle, Claudio Romero of Chile took the world U18 title with 64.33m, a world U18 leading mark.
The pre-event favourite had to dig deep to overcome Ukraine's Oleksiy Kyrylin, whose second-round 63.98m headed the standings until Romero's fifth attempt. The Chilean made history by taking the first medal of any colour for his country in the history of World U18 Championships.
“Everything is just perfect today, a personal best and a gold medal,” Romero said. He had nothing but praise for the hosts of the championships. "I want to thank the wonderful people of Kenya. The atmosphere in the stadium is amazing."
Well behind the top two, South Africa's Morne Brandon took bronze with a last-round effort of 58.34m.
Romero entered the championships with a season's best of 63.65m, farther than any of the other participants. But as it turned out, he needed to throw even farther to take home the gold.
A first-round 60.90m took the Chilean comfortably into the lead, almost three metres ahead of Anyel Alvarez from Cuba. But in the second round, Kyrylin suddenly released a big throw of 63.98m, nearly two metres beyond what he had ever achieved before.
In the same round, Vitor Gabriel Motim of Brazil went into third thanks to an effort of 58.27m, also a personal best.
Having made his statement, the Ukrainian did not get another valid attempt in the remaining rounds. But the bar had been set high for his rivals.
In the third round, Romero responded with a throw landing in the same region as the leader's. But after tense moments of waiting for both rivals, the distance was announced as 63.83. Close, but not enough for the lead.
The Chilean's next throw went out to just beyond 60 metres. But then, in round five, he finally got it right. The result was 64.33m and a 35-centimetre lead.
After Romero's foul in the final round, Kyrylin still had a chance to counter, but when he sent the discus flying into the cage, it was all over.
With little more than a metre separating third from seventh place after three rounds, the battle for bronze looked wide open. Motim had a consistent series, but was not able to improve on his second throw. It looked like he might just hang on for a podium finish, until the final round, when Brandon, only sixth up to that point, added more than a metre to his best with 58.34m. It was only seven centimetres more than Motim, but that proved enough for a medal.
The Brazilian took fourth place, and Alvarez, one of the favourites, a disappointed fifth.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF