Germany’s Niklas Kaul trailed overnight leader Maksim Andraloits by a seemingly insurmountable 370 points with two events remaining in the decathlon but, based on their respective performances across the javelin and 1500m, the world U18 champion was still tipped to close the gap.
But the eventual winner was one of the few doubting the outcome. “After the pole vault, I was still thinking I could only get the silver and I would be happy with that,” he said.
Kaul had all but made up the gap after a brilliant effort in the javelin. Andraloits did his best to limit the damage with a 48.79m PB but Kaul showed his elbow was back to its full capacity after an early season injury as he launched the spear out to a world decathlon U20 best of 71.59m in the third round.
Kaul had made up nearly 350 points in the space of just one event and the German was by far the faster on paper over 1500m. After a conservative first 700 metres, Kaul capped off his two days with another PB of 4:21.61 with Andraloits ceding more than 100 metres over the last two laps.
Kaul’s overall total of 8162 points is the best ever mark recorded in an U20 decathlon. He still has another season left before moving into the senior ranks.
Andraloits was safe in the silver medal position with the Belarusian setting a national U20 record of 8046 in the process with Johannes Erm third in an Estonian U20 record of 7879.
Degefa upsets formbook to win the 3000m
The Ethiopian team in Bydgoszcz is largely devoid of international experience but if Beyenu Degefa’s performance in the 3000m is anything to go by, their best times on paper should be disregarded.
One of the slowest athletes in the race with a best time of 9:34.00 set at altitude earlier this season, Degefa produced a last lap of 61.9 – and 2:41.80 for the last kilometre – to claim the title in a championship record of 8:41.76, breaking a mark which has stood since 1992.
The athlete who made it such a fast race was the highly rated German Konstanze Klosterhalfen. The 19-year-old ran herself into a medal position with a 67-second penultimate lap and came away with a bronze medal in 8:46.74, just behind Bahrain’s Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa in 8:46.42.
Among European U20 athletes, only Zola Budd (8:28.83) and Gabriela Szabo (8:40.08) have run faster than Klosterhalfen.
The second night in Bydgoszcz was capped off with the men’s 100m final which saw the title remain in US hands with Noah Lyles succeeding Kendal Williams as the champion. The 19-year-old claimed the title in 10.17 ahead of Italy’s Filippo Tortu (10.24) and Mario Burke of Barbados (10.26).
Tortu became just the second Italian to win a medal in the 100m while Burke picked up the Caribbean nation’s first ever medal in the event.
Maruszewska unexpectedly claims javelin gold
One day after Konrad Bukowiecki claimed the shot put title with a world U20 record, Poland added to their medal haul in the javelin.
But while Bukowiecki was the odds-on favourite to claim the title, Klaudia Maruszewska wasn’t even expected to reach the final. The 18-year-old improved her lifetime best from 50.43m to 54.34m in the qualifying pool, and with her first throw of the final added another three metres to her lifetime best with a winning throw of 57.59m.
“I knew I was capable of throwing further than ever before but I wasn’t expecting to throw as far as I did,” commented Maruszewska, who became the first Polish woman to win a world U20 title in any event.
World U20 leader Haruka Kitaguchi from Japan had a competition to forget, finishing down in eighth with 52.12m.
Any three of Alina Kenzel’s valid throws would have claimed the title in the shot put final but the German’s standout effort came in the third round where the 18-year-old extended her world U20 lead to 17.58m.
Kenzel’s winning margin of 1.22m ahead of China’s Song Jiayuan is the biggest in championship history. Her margin of ascendency was even greater than Bukowiecki’s in yesterday’s men’s shot put final.
The long jumpers were pinned back by a persistent headwind in the final but pre-competition favourite Maykel Masso from Cuba duly delivered with his second-round jump of 8.00m ahead of Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou (7.91m) and Australia’s Darcy Roper (7.88m).
Russell clocks 13.20 in 110m hurdles semifinals
De’Jour Russell might have counted himself fortunate to take his place in the third 110m hurdles semifinal after triggering the recall gun but the Jamaican kept his composure to qualify as the fastest for tomorrow’s final with a world U20 leading time of 13.20.
Russell’s previous best stood at 13.55 and what’s more, his mark was also the fastest ever by an U18 athlete over the 99.1cm barriers. Born in 2000, Russell still has three full seasons left before he graduates into the senior ranks and he might be one of the stars of next year’s World U18 Championships in Nairobi.
There will also be a Jamaican favourite in the women’s 400m final with Tiffany James qualifying with a 51.70 PB to lead the qualifiers ahead of fellow semifinal winners Lynna Irby from the United States (51.90) and Jessica Thornton from Australia (52.12).
A US one-two which looked a possibility before the championships is now looking a distinct likelihood in the women’s 800m with Aaliyah Miller (2:04.36) and world U18 champion Samantha Watson (2:04.50) winning their semifinals.
Nobody else from the top 10 on the 2016 world U20 800m list has qualified for the final.
Steven Mills for the IAAF