Marisleisys Duarthe in the javelin at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 (© Getty Images)
Marisleisys Duarthe could have retired from the girls’ javelin final after the first round and she would have still walked away with the gold medal. But the Cuban continued churning out big throws round after round in an effort to improve on her own world U18 best of 65.44m.
Ultimately she was a couple of metres short of that mark, but she was rewarded with a championship record of 62.92m – a distance no other U18 girl in history has ever achieved.
She opened with 57.83m and improved on that with 57.90m in round two. Her winning throw came in round three; as soon as her spear landed comfortably beyond the 60-metre line, it was clear that the championship record was living on borrowed time. Moments later, the scoreboard confirmed it: her 62.92m added one metre and 45 centimetres to the previous record set by Australia’s Mackenzie Little in 2013.
Although she didn’t throw beyond 60 metres again, she rounded out her series with solid efforts of 55.45m, 54.05m and 58.82m, securing Cuba’s first world U18 javelin title.
As expected, Chinese duo Cai Qing and Dai Qianqian provided her stiffest opposition. It took a while for them to hit top form, though.
Cai was in fifth place going into the sixth round, but managed to pull out a 57.01m effort with her final throw.
Dai went from ninth to second with her 53.55m throw in round three, narrowly missing the half-way cut off. She consolidated her position in round five with a 54.96m effort before being overtaken by her teammate in round six.
Germany’s Julia Ulbricht had been in the bronze medal position from the third round onwards with 53.15m before being bumped out of the medals by Cai. Ulbricht had just one chance with which to respond, and she improved to a PB of 54.77m with her final effort, but it fell just short of a podium position.
Duarthe’s teammate Melissa Hernandez was in second place after two rounds, but eventually finished fifth.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF