Italy’s surprise 4x400m gold a fitting end to IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

In a week where nothing seemed certain, this was the only fitting conclusion – a dropped baton, a race filled with captivating, climactic chaos, the favourites beaten, the underdogs rising, and gold going to Italy.

The men’s 4x400m, and its aftermath, embodied just about everything wonderful about the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018, the shrieking support from the stands giving the stars of the show a fantastic send-off.

After a poor championships by USA by their incredibly high standards – one in which they were demoted to third in the medal table – it seemed certain the old reliable, the 4x400m, would be theirs for the taking.

But their baton crashed to the track at the end of the first leg, and though it was swiftly picked up by lead-leg runner Elija Godwin, the loss of seconds would prove critical. Out front, Italy and Belgium were charging ahead in the race for gold, the Italians seizing command on the third leg after an inspired run by Alessandro Sibilio.

He passed on to Edoardo Scotti who pulled further clear, the European U20 champions eventually adding the world U20 title in 3:04.05. Afterwards the Italian team gathered by the medal rostrum and made the loudest noise of the week as they roared their national anthem in unison, a team in the true sense of the word.

USA did well to salvage second with 3:05.26, with Britain taking third in 3:05.64.

The women’s race proved a far more straightforward affair for USA, their individual class shining bright as they ripped around the four laps in splendid isolation. Taylor Manson was able to effectively enjoy an early lap of honour on the final leg before crossing the line in 3:28.74.

Taylor Manson of the USA takes the baton in the 4x400m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

Australia capped a great week with silver in 3:31.36, with Jamaica third in 3:31.90.

USA got their day off to a great start with gold in the women’s 100m hurdles, though the judges need their most powerful lenses to separate Tia Jones and Britany Anderson.

Both crossed the line in 13.012, exactly, the thousandths of a second unable to separate them, but USA’s Jones given the verdict by a hair’s breadth from the Jamaican. Cortney Jones came through strongly for third in 13.19 to take another minor medal for USA.


In the distance events, Ethiopia moved themselves up to fourth on the medal table with a superb brace of gold medals from steeplechaser Takele Nigate and 1500m runner Alemaz Samuel.

In the 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Leonard Bett had been tipped to take gold and continue his nation’s fine, formidable record in the event, the Kenyans having won gold at every edition from 1988 onwards.

But that run of dominance was put to an abrupt end thanks to a late, irresistible surge by Nigate, who out-duelled Bett in a gruelling home-straight battle to take gold in 8:25.35.

“My plan was to kick with 100 metres to go. I was pleased to snatch the gold medal in the final second,” said Nigate.

The women’s 1500m was won in contrasting style by Samuel, who became the third successive champion from Ethiopia. She made a long drive for home entering the final lap, which she covered in 61.04 to take a convincing win in 4:09.67 over Kenya’s Miriam Cherop and Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas.

Afterwards, Samuel’s words suggested it was as it looked: effortless.

“It was a slow race – it was very easy for me,” she said. “I was expecting a hard race.”

Kenya gained some revenge on their East African rivals in the men’s 800m, where Solomon Lekuta took gold with a run that required speed, stamina and a sheer sense of self-belief.

Lekuta and teammate Ngeno Kipngetich secured their nation a third consecutive one-two in the event, the pair coming home in 1:46.35 and 1:46.45 respectively, Lekuta just the stronger down the home straight.

“I’m really happy with the gold medal but the competition was really hot because everyone wanted it too,” said Lekuta. “I’ve been training for this championship for a long time and I want to dedicate the gold medal to my parents.”

Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad held on for third, but he was later disqualified for halting the run of Belgium’s Eliott Crestan approaching the finish, a decision which upgraded Crestan to bronze in 1:47.27.


Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Nacheva unveiled a stunning leap in the second round of the women’s triple jump to take her nation’s first gold medal in the event since Tereza Marinova’s triumph in 1996.

Despite Brazil’s Mirieli Santos producing a breakthrough effort of 13.81m and Cuba’s Davisleydi Velazco managing an impressive 13.78m, Nacheva’s winning margin was a whopping 37 centimetres.

Nacheva opened with a foul, then powered down the runway with the benefit of a mild breeze behind her (1.6m/s) and sailed out to 14.18m. That was a world U20 lead, the kind of jump no one in the field had ever approached, so from there the competition, as a contest, was essentially over.

Knowing gold was secure, Nacheva passed her final three attempts to seal a memorable victory ahead of Santos and Velazco.

“I didn’t know where this result came from, it just came on its own,” said Nacheva. “It feels absolutely amazing to win the gold; this was the only medal for my country at these championships so I’m really happy to make my country proud.”

While that event may have gone to form, the men’s discus final did anything but, Jamaica’s Kai Chang causing a huge upset by taking gold in 62.36m.

All eyes had been on reigning champion and world U20 leader Mohamed Ibrahim Moaaz from Qatar, but after scraping through to the final with his third throw in qualifying, he could only finish fifth in the final with 59.87m.

“I hope my performance can help Jamaican discus throwing get a lot more recognition, as it’s lacking there at the moment, so I hope I can motivate others to get involved,” said Chang.

Belarus’s Yauheni Bahutski took silver with a best of 61.75m, while Chile’s Claudio Romero set a season’s best of 60.81m with his first-round throw to ensure a surprise bronze medal.

In the women’s high jump, the surprises continued, not so much in the presence of Karyna Taranda of Belarus and Colombia’s Maria Fernanda Murillo at the head of the standings, but that it became a three-way battle when Ireland’s Sommer Lecky jumped into medal contention.

Lecky had come into the event with a lifetime best of 1.86m, but she soared into medal contention with a clearance at 1.90m.

Taranda also got over it on her first try to take the overall lead, while Murillo cleared it on her second attempt to equal her own South American U20 record.

They were then confirmed as the three medallists, but the order had yet to be decided.

Taranda was the only athlete to clear 1.92m, and though Lecky and Murillo both came close on their final attempts they were ultimately unsuccessful.

It meant Taranda was confirmed as the gold medallist with Lecky taking silver and Murillo bronze. It was the first time since 2004 that all three medallists jumped 1.90m or higher.

It made Taranda the first Belarusian winner of the women’s high jump at the World U20 Championships, while back in second Lecky claimed Ireland’s second silver medal in the space of 24 hours, this from a nation that had won just two in the 16 previous editions of the championships.

Kenya topped the medal table with six golds, with Jamaica second and USA third. Overall, USA had by far the most medals with a tally of 18 and they were clear leaders on the placings table.

Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF

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Williams secures sprint double on super Saturday in Tampere

The penultimate day of action at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 featured some of the biggest names in junior athletics, but the biggest talking point of the session came from a 16-year-old Jamaican girl.

Not just any 16-year-old, of course. Briana Williams had underlined her talent earlier in the week when winning the 100m title from world U20 leader Twanisha Terry. The 200m was considered to be very much her secondary event, though, as she had never bettered 23 seconds and was up against a formidable US duo.

Drawn in lane three, Williams darted around the bend and had a marginal lead on USA’s Lauren Rain Williams as they entered the straight. Showing no signs of fatigue in her sixth race in four days, she then extended her lead in the second half of the race and crossed the line in a championship record of 22.50.

Rain Williams finished a distant second in 23.09 with Poland’s Martyna Kotwila taking bronze in a PB of 23.21.


It is a measure of their calibre when Cuba’s Jordan Diaz and Sweden’s Armand Duplantis set championship records but are left feeling unsatisfied.

Both athletes went to Tampere as the overwhelming favourites in their respective events – Diaz in the triple jump, Duplantis in the pole vault – but they had also hoped to challenge the world U20 records.

The jumping duo were competing at the same time and were as dominant as one another. Diaz led from the outset, jumping 16.84m and 16.91m before breaking the championship record with 17.15m in round three. After a big foul in the fourth round, he matched his winning distance in round five before ending with a foul.

France collected the other two triple jump medals. Martin Lamou picked up an injury during warm-up but got in a valid jump of 16.44m which proved to be enough for silver, while Jonathan Seremes took bronze with 16.18m.

Duplantis waited until the bar was at 5.50m before joining the pole vault final. A first-time clearance immediately gave him a share of the leading position with Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and USA’s Zachery Bradford.

Armand Duplantis in the pole vault at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

Five men were still left in the competition as the bar moved to 5.60m, but Duplantis was the only one to get over it, doing so on his first try. He then sailed clear at 5.82m to smash the championship record of 5.71m set 12 years ago and ended his series with three unsuccessful tries at 6.01m.

Bradford and Japan’s Masaki Ejima, who both cleared 5.55m, took silver and bronze respectively.


Edward Zakayo gained revenge on the man who pipped him to 3000m gold at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega, in a thrilling 5000m contest.

It didn’t take long for a lead pack to emerge. Zakayo and Barega ran alongside Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka, Ethiopia’s Telahun Bekele and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo as they passed 3000 metres in 8:06.70. Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen managed to detach himself from the chase pack and caught up with the leaders with about four laps to go.

The lead group bided their time for a few more laps, but as the bell sounded it looked as though Ingebrigtsen was poised to out-kick Barega and Waithaka. All of the medal contenders had to weave in and out of several lapped runners, but it was Zakayo who proved to have the best kick as he sped past Barega, Ingebrigtsen and Waithaka to take gold in 13:20.16.

Waithaka made it a Kenyan 1-2 with 13:20.57, while Ingebrigtsen took bronze with a PB of 13:20.78, breaking the European U20 record that had stood to Steve Binns since 1979.

Edward Zakayo wins the 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018


Sokwakhana Zazini became the fourth reigning world U18 champion to win gold in Tampere, but his victory here in the 400m hurdles was a completely different race to the one he won in Nairobi last year when taking his first global title.

The South African won by almost three seconds in the Kenyan capital last year. Here in Tampere, however, little more than half a second separated the first four men across the line.

Zazini had a slight lead over Qatar’s Bassem Hemeida as they negotiated the final two barriers and he scrapped his way to the finish line to win in 49.42, his fastest time at sea level.

Hemeida was rewarded with a PB of 49.59 to take the silver medal. Brazil’s Alison Santos, fifth in Nairobi last year, was a lot closer to Zazini this time and claimed the bronze medal with a PB of 49.78.


They had to wait until the last event of the penultimate day of action, but USA finally won their first gold medal of the championships by winning the men’s 4x100m.

After numerous other gold medal hopes had fallen by the wayside earlier in the championships, the US quartet of Eric Harrison, Anthony Schwartz, Austin Kratz and Micah Williams got the baton safely around to stop the clock at 38.88. Fellow sprint powerhouse Jamaica claimed silver with 38.96, while Germany pipped Japan on the line to take bronze 39.22 to 39.23.

USA and Jamaica had failed to reach the final of the women’s event, but the race wasn’t lacking in excitement. One year after breaking the world U20 record, Germany won their first world U20 title in the women’s 4x100m since 2000, clocking 43.82.

Ireland won their third ever World U20 Championships medal by taking silver in a national U20 record of 43.90 while Britain got the bronze with 44.05.


Both of the U20 winners from the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018 ended up taking gold medals in the 10,000m race walk events in Tampere.

After covering 25 laps of the track in uncomfortably warm conditions, just six thousandths of a second separated the top two finishers at the end of the men’s event. World U18 champion Zhang Yao, who also won in Taicang, looked well on his way to pick up a third global title, but Ecuador’s David Hurtado produced an inspired effort down the final home straight and crossed the line level with Zhang.

After a couple of minutes, it was finally confirmed that Zhang had won the title in 40:32.06. Hurtado was given the same time in second place, but just six thousandths of a second separated them in the photo finish.

Guatemala’s Jose Ortiz took bronze with 40:45.06 as all three medallists were rewarded with PBs.

In the women’s race, the same three medallists from Taicang filled the podium and in the same order.

Mexico’s Alegna Gonzalez stayed away from the lead until the final 600 metres but the 19-year-old timed her effort brilliantly, pulling away from Ecuador’s Glenda Morejon and Turkey’s Meryem Bekmez to win her second major title of the season in a world U20 leading time of 44:13.88.

Bekmez was second in 44:17.69 with world U18 champion Morejon taking bronze in 44:19.40.


Nash Lowis won Australia’s first world U20 title in a men’s throwing event, while Camryn Rogers became the first Canadian woman to win a world U20 title.

Lowis’s third-round throw of 73.47m gave him a three-centimetre lead over Germany’s Maurice Voigt. He then added a metre to the lifetime best he set in the qualifying round, throwing 75.31m in round five to extend his lead.

Tzuriel Pedigo displaced Voigt as the silver medallist, throwing a PB of 73.76m in the final round to become USA’s first ever medallist in the men’s javelin at the World U20 Championships.

Rogers’ opening effort of 64.90m remained the top mark of the hammer final, but it also ended up being the closest women’s hammer competition in World U20 Championships history with just 1.08m separating the three medallists.

USA’s Alyssa Wilson, the world U20 leader, went into the hammer with hopes of salvaging a medal of any colour, having fouled out of the shot put final and finished a distant 10th in the discus. She threw 64.14m in round two to move into second place and apply pressure on Rogers.

Rogers didn’t improve with her remaining attempts but consistently landed her hammer close to the 65-metre line. Cuba’s world U18 silver medallist Yaritza Martinez threw 63.82m to take bronze.

Two gold medals were awarded in the high jump as Greece’s Antonios Merlos and Mexico’s world U20 leader Roberto Vilches couldn’t be separated on countback after they both cleared 2.23m on their first attempts.

A jump-off was an option but the two protagonists embraced each other warmly and were more than happy to split the spoils.

There was also a tie for the bronze medal between South Africa’s world U18 champion Breyton Poole and USA’s JuVaughn Blake. They both cleared 2.23m but on their second attempts.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

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Great Britain charges up medals table with trio of cold in Tampere

A thrilling conclusion to the heptathlon played out in the 800m and the onset of a sudden torrential rain shower which brought back memories of the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki in 2005 added an extra layer of frisson to proceedings.

Overnight leader Niamh Emerson still led the standings after six events but her lead over reigning champion Sarah Lagger had been cut back to just two points after the javelin. With the rain coming down heavily, Emerson could have played it safe by tucking in behind the Austrian but the leader threw the gauntlet down to Lagger, tracking Poland’s Adrianna Sulek who was making a brave late charge for a bronze medal.

Emerson, who has a faster lifetime best than Lagger but a slower season’s best, preserved a small but significant gap on Lagger all the way down the home straight, her legs crumbling beneath her as she crossed the finish-line and on to the sodden track in 2:09.74 ahead of Lagger who was also rewarded with a lifetime best of 2:11.53.

Emerson took her total up to a world U20 leading tally of 6253, surpassing the injured Alina Shukh’s total of 6177 points from the Gotzis Hypo-Meeting. The quality of the competition was such that Lagger surpassed her winning total from two years ago by almost 300 points with 6225 but that was still insufficient to retain her title.

Sulek was rewarded for her front running exploits and, despite fading to third in 2:12.38 after passing through halfway in 62.90, the Pole moved up from sixth after the javelin into bronze medal position, improving the national U20 record to 5939 in the process.

This gold medal came shortly after Emerson’s teammate Jake Norris opened the British title haul in the hammer.

While Emerson just missed Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s British U20 record by 14 points, Norris surpassed his national U20 record with 80.65m in the fifth round to defeat Ukrainians Myhaylo Kokhan (79.68m) and Myhaylo Havryluk (77.71m).

The gold medals from Emerson and Norris were largely expected but a British one-two in the men’s 200m final was not a readily cast prediction prior of the championships, although the outcome was not an altogether infeasible one based on their semifinal showings.

Second at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto last year, 18-year-old Jona Efoloko went one better on the global stage, winning gold in a lifetime best of 20.48 from teammate Charles Dobson in 20.57.

After four days of competition, the United States are still yet to win a gold medal at the championships. With Jamaica’s Christopher Taylor opting to contest the 400m instead, Eric Harrison was favoured for the 200m title but the fastest entrant with a 20.39 PB had to settle for bronze in 20.79.

They will have prospects of a gold medal in the women’s 200m final, though, as Lauren Rain Williams was the fastest across the semifinals in 23.15 ahead of Jamaica’s world U20 100m champion Briana Williams in 23.41.


Taylor was expected to dominate the 400m final but the 2015 world U18 champion – who recently improved the Jamaican U20 record to 44.88 – was unexpectedly run down in the home straight by Belgium’s Jonathan Sacoor.

Sacoor, 18, looked impressive in the semifinal but it was not thought he would match the Jamaican who recently equalled Yohan Blake’s national U20 100m record of 10.11. Sacoor’s winning time of 45.03 represented an improvement of 1.18 seconds on his pre-championships lifetime best and moves him to second on the European U20 all-time list behind Thomas Schonlebe’s 45.01.

Jonathan Sacoor of Belgium after his upset 400m victory at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

But the women’s 400m hurdles final largely went to form with South Africa’s Zeney van der Walt becoming only the second reigning world U18 champion in action this week to follow up that success with gold at U20 level in Tampere.

Drawn on her immediate inside, Van der Walt was pushed hard by Jamaica’s Shiann Salmon over eight of the 10 hurdles before her strength showed in the home straight. Van der Walt stopped the clock at 55.34 – the second fastest time of her career and her fastest at sea level – with Salmon safe in silver with 56.11.

There is every possibility of a South African double in the event. Fellow world U18 champion Sokwakhana Zazini – who won that title by nearly three seconds – was the only athlete to break the 50-second barrier in the men’s semifinals with 49.43

In the 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Celliphine Chespol became the first athlete to successfully defend her title in Tampere.

The second fastest athlete of all time signed off her age-group career by taking a huge chunk off her championship record with 9:12.78, defeating Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai (9:18.87) and Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi (9:23.47) who both finished inside the old mark of 9:25.15.


On an evening of some sizeable shocks, world U20 leader Tara Davis from the United States had to settle for a bronze medal in the long jump final.

Davis, who jumped 6.40m to reach the final, set her best mark of 6.36m in the sixth round but this still proved insufficient to challenge Lea-Jasmin Riecke who improved her lifetime best from 6.38m to 6.51m to win Germany’s first medal of the championships. Riecke was the only competitor in the final to set either a season’s best or lifetime best.

Lea-Jasmin Riecke, the long jump winner at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

Some favoured nations came to grief in the heats of the 4x100m. In the men’s event, South Africa was disqualified and Great Britain and Australia both failed to finish as Germany led proceedings with a world U20 leading mark of 39.13.

Both the US and the Jamaican quartets were disqualified from the women’s 4x100m heats. Germany, who broke the world U20 record at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto last July, led the way with another world U20 leading time of 43.80.

Their squad in the final is expected to feature both Keshia Kwadwo and Sophia Junk, who were part of that record-breaking team last July.

Steven Mills for the IAAF

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Manangoi’s magic tops thrilling day three in Tampere

An engrossing, exhilarating men’s 1500m final won by Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi proved the highlight of day three at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 on Thursday (12).

Fending off the challenges of the formidable Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Samuel Tefera and Justus Soget, Manangoi backed up his world U18 title with a wonderfully resilient win, hitting the line in 3:41.71 to ensure that the U18, U20 and senior world 1500m titles now all belong to the same household.

Ingebrigtsen of Norway took silver in 3:41.89, bronze went to Soget of Kenya in 3:42.14, with Britain’s Jake Heyward fourth in 3:43.76.

It says much about the race’s quality that Tefera, the world indoor champion from Ethiopia, could only finish fifth in 3:43.91, although this was no ordinary world U20 final, but likely the best field ever assembled at this level.

The race started at a crawl, Kenya’s Justus Soget taking a hesitant lead and towing the field through 400m in 63.11. On the second lap, gold medal favourite Tefera gradually moved to the front, passing 800m in 2:05.74.

By then, the gears were turning throughout the pack, a ripple effect of panic and chaos breaking out as everyone tried to shuffle into position for the bell lap.

Tefera began to pour it on at the front, a 56.49-second lap taking them to the bell in 2:48.10. Up the back straight, Tefera went all-in, churning out a ferocious tempo and leading into the final turn, but Soget and Ingebrigtsen were coming, ready to strike.

Soget was the first to go by, then Ingebrigtsen came over the top of him, wrestling to the front with mere metres to run. But finishing fastest of all was the forgotten man: Manangoi.

“I’m very grateful,” said Manangoi. “I wasn’t confident that I could win but I did my best and now I know I have the talent.”

Ingebrigtsen took a defeated look to his right near the finish, trying but unable to muster anything else in his bid for gold, but he was content with an excellent silver.

“I obviously wanted to go for the gold but I’m happy,” he said. “I had to run in lane two a lot, which is not a good thing but all in all, this was a great experience. I’m going to bed early now as I’m running the 5,000m final on Saturday.”


Youth may well be wasted on the young, but that’s not an accusation you could level at Briana Williams, who at 16 surprised everyone – apart from coach Ato Boldon – by taking gold in the women’s 100m in 11.16.

The favourite, Twanisha Terry of USA, had clocked a blistering championship record of 11.03 in her semi-final earlier in the night, but when the pressure came on she couldn’t repeat it.

Terry was unable to pull back Williams over the latter half of the race after the Jamaican’s flying start, and had to settle for silver with 11.19, with Kristal Awuah taking third with 11.37.

“It feels amazing to win this race,” said Williams. “I’ve been training for this race all season long.”

For her coach Ato Boldon, it was all part of the plan.

“We knew that she’d most likely be in the lead at 50 metres,” he said. “I told her before the race that if she panics, then the others will go past her, but if she holds her form, she can win it.”

Minutes before, the men’s 110m hurdles delivered Jamaica’s first title of the week, Darion Thomas living up to his favourite’s billing by powering to victory in 13.16 ahead of compatriot Orlando Bennett. Japan’s Shunsuke Izumiya took third in 13.38.


With a power-packed finish, India’s Hima Das sealed her nation’s first ever medal in the 400m at the IAAF World U20 Championships, sling-shotting to the lead down the home straight and coming home a clear winner in 51.46.

It made her the first Indian woman to win a global title of any kind and the first Indian, male or female, to win a global track title.

Das had looked an overwhelming favourite for gold throughout the rounds, but on an evening of surprises it looked like another one was on the cards midway through the 400m final. She went off in conservative fashion, and was no better than fourth as she entered the final turn.

But, as she said afterwards, “my biggest strength is the last 100m.”

She torched up the home straight and was drawing away at the finish, coming home well clear of Miklos, who grabbed silver with a PB of 52.07. Manson claimed bronze for USA with a strong run of 52.28.

“I’m very proud to hold the Indian flag on my shoulders,” said Das. “I’d like to thank India and my team leader and my coach.”


In the women’s pole vault, Amalie Svabikova produced the finest series in her of her life to take gold, the standout performer on a damp, difficult evening for vaulting.

She secured victory with a clearance of 4.40m, but not content with that she raised the bar to 4.51m and duly sailed clear to establish a Czech U20 record.

“I still don’t believe it, today was so good,” said Svabikova, who was seventh at these championships two years ago and fifth at the European juniors last year.

Behind her, the rest of field struggled. 4.20m dwindled the field to eight, but only five remained after 4.30m: Svabikova, Swede Lisa Gunnarsson, authorised neutral athlete Yelizaveta Bondarenko, Olivia McTaggart of New Zealand and Frenchwoman Alice Moindrot.

Gunnarsson went over 4.35m on her second try, Moindrot and Bondarenko with their third, while McTaggart bowed out. All missed at 4.40m, with countback giving silver to Gunnarsson and bronze to Moindrot.

In the women’s discus, Moldova claimed its second ever medal in the history of these championships, and it was the best kind: gold.

Alexandra Emilianov’s best effort of 57.89m came in the third round, and it was more than good enough for gold. Finland’s Helena Leveelahti, inspired by a supportive home crowd, breached new ground in second with a national U20 record of 56.80m. Cuba’s Silinda Oneisi Morales took bronze with 55.37m.


Ethiopia claimed its first gold medal of the week in the women’s 800m, a fearless front-running performance from Diribe Welteji delivering her nation its first ever title in the two-lap event.

Welteji took the race on the moment the gun fired, leading through 400m in a swift, but not senseless, 58.98. She was the only one able to maintain that kind of tempo, and she came home an easy winner in 1:59.74, a championship best and the first sub-two in the championships’ history.

Silver went to Carley Thomas of Australia in a PB of 2:01.13, with Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas third in 2:01.29.

After four events of the heptathlon, Britain’s Niamh Emerson appears to be well on her way to a world title, though it’s still all to play for on day two.

She racked up 3690 points on day one courtesy of an outstanding morning where she set PBs in both the hurdles and high jump, clocking 13.76 and soaring over 1.89m. A 12.27m shot put and a 24.80 200m gives her a slight overnight lead over Cuba’s Adriana Rodriguez, who has 3634.

“The first two events were amazing this morning, then the shot put was solid but I wanted more from the 200m,” said Emerson.

Austria’s Sarah Lagger is marginally behind on 3609, but should make a bold bid on day two. Her day was highlighted by a championship best of 14.38m in the shot put.

Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF

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Asia Pacific dominates day two in Tampere

With athletes from Africa, North America and Europe often commanding the headlines at major championships, day two at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 was the turn for Asia Pacific to shine, with athletes from the region capturing five of the six gold medals on offer.

Japanese distance runners and jumpers joined forces to produce one of the finest half-hour spans in the country’s athletics history, with Nozomi Tanaka and Yuki Hashioka taking victories in the women’s 3000m and men’s long jump, respectively.

Tanaka and teammate Yuna Wada set the tone in the 3000m as they took firm command of the race early on, forging on alone to carve out a massive lead, one they held through the bell, carrying a five-second advantage into the final lap over Ethiopian pair Meselu Berhe and Tsiga Gebreselama.

Never wavering, Tanaka then broke away as she hit the backstretch for the last time, powering away to Japan’s first title in the event at an IAAF World U20 Championships. In a race of astonishing quality, her 8:54.01 was a personal best, as were the performances by the next 12 women across the line.

Wada faded over the final half lap, caught and passed by the Ethiopian pair, Berhe reaching the line in 8:56.39 and Gebreselama in 8:59.20.

Meanwhile, in the long jump Hashioka captured Japan’s first-ever gold in that event with a third-round 8.03m leap, to narrowly defeat pre-meet favourite Maikel Vidal who reached 7.99m. The Cuban was the picture of consistency, backing up his best with leaps of 7.95m and 7.94m twice, but it wasn’t enough to top Hashioka’s effort, the fourth farthest of his career. Wayne Pinnock reached 7.90m with his first leap to secure bronze, the first medal in the event for Jamaica at a World U20 Championships.

There was an even more significant first in the men’s 100m, courtesy of rising sprint star Lalu Muhammad Zohri whose triumph in the dash came in an Indonesian’s first ever appearance in a World U20 Championships final.

Indeed, prior to Zohri’s powerful 10.18 upset victory over Anthony Schwartz and Eric Harrison of the US, who both clocked 10.22, Indonesia was only represented twice: once with an eighth-place finish in a 100m heat and another with a DNF. Zohri’s national U20 record will no doubt open the door and pave the way for more.

The seeds for today’s success for that slice of the planet were planted yesterday with the start of the decathlon, which culminated today with Ashley Moloney leading an Australian 1-2 in the event with a championship record tally of 8190.

Producing the performance on a lifetime, the 18-year-old was the quintessential picture of youthful exuberance over the two days as he notched six personal bests and equalled another en route to the largest winning margin ever at these championships.

Teammate Gary Haasbroek took silver with 7798 with Simon Ehammer of Switzerland taking a surprise bronze.

There were late-round dramatics in the women’s shot put, the first final of the day, where Madison-Lee Wesche emerged when it mattered most to take New Zealand’s first medal at these championships.

Dutchwoman Jorinde van Klinken set the tone, reaching 17.05m with her first effort, a mark that grew stronger as each round melded into the next. Until the fourth round, only Zhang Linru came within half a metre of Van Klinken, reaching 16.65m in round two. She then admirably lived up to her title as Asian junior champion, matching Van Klinken’s 17.05m and assuming the lead based on a better second effort.

Then, echoing yesterday’s men’s final, Wesche, sitting in bronze medal position, stepped into the ring for the final time and threw 17.09m, a personal best to better Zhang by four centimetres. She became the second New Zealander to win this title, following in the footsteps of 2002 winner Valerie Adams.

In the final field event of the day, Alina Shukh captured gold in the javelin, setting up what could be a historic double.

The 19-year-old Ukrainian, a strong favourite in the heptathlon which gets underway tomorrow, took command from the outset, taking the lead with a 53.42m effort in the opening round, and extended it to 54.53m in the second. She went better still in the third, sending her spear to a season’s best 55.95m, equalling the second best throw of her career.

In a tight contest, Japan’s Tomoka Kuwazoe reached 55.66m for silver and Dana Baker of the US 55.04m for bronze.

No major surprises emerged in the men’s 110m hurdles semifinals, except for the name of the man who emerged from the three races as the fastest over the 99cm barriers.

That was Briton Jason Nicholson, who, after bouncing across the line to a 13.58 personal best in this morning’s first-round heats, produced the race of his life en route to a 13.32 victory in his semi, beating among others world leader and co-U20 world record holder Damion Thomas. Nicholson edged the Jamaican by 0.05, who’ll join teammate Orlando Bennett, winner of heat two in 13.45, in tomorrow evening’s final.

Cory Poole of the US won the first semi comfortably in 13.68 to keep his 110m/400m hurdles double victory ambitions alive.

But there was a shock in the women’s 800m semi-finals, perhaps the biggest of the rounds, where defending champion Samantha Watson of the US failed to qualify for tomorrow night’s final. The 18-year-old, who raced to world U18 gold in 2015 and the NCAA title in June, was never in the race here, finishing a distant fourth in 2:03.95, leading to a nervous wait to see if she’d squeeze through on time. She wouldn’t, finishing no better than equal 10th.

Fireweyni Hailu of Ethiopia was a confident winner in 2:01.96, followed across the line by Delia Sclabas, whose 2:02.12 was a Swiss U20 record. Kenyan Jackline Wambui was third in 2:03.44, also forced to wait it out before learning of her fate. In the end, she would advance.

The second heat was marginally faster, won by a second Ethiopian, Diribe Welteji, in 2:01.89. Propelled by a 2:03.20 lifetime best, Katy-Ann McDonald of Great Britain finished second to take the heat’s second automatic qualifying spot.

Carley Thomas of Australia and Gabriela Gajanova of Slovakia finished 1-2 in the third heat in 2:03.19 and 2:03.36 respectively, with Japan’s Ayaka Kawata, following a scant 0.01 behind, advancing as well.

Meanwhile, India’s Hima Das, another pre-race favourite, didn’t stray from the form card, leading all qualifiers with a 52.10 victory in the first of three semi-finals in the women’s 400m, on track on her quest to capture India’s first women’s medal at the World U20 Championships.

Australia’s Ella Connolly won the third heat in 52.78 and Taylor Manson of the US the second, in 53.00. Romania’s Andrea Miklos also looked good, clocking 52.48 as she finished behind Das.

In the men’s pole vault, Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis, one of these championships’ poster boys, made his first appearance – more of a brief jaunt to top 5.30m on his only jump to lead all qualifiers. Nine others topped 5.20m to also move on to Saturday afternoon’s final.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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Heroics by Blignaut, Chebet and Kipruto highlight day one in Tampere

A captivating women’s 5000m, won with a blinding turn of speed, a punishing men’s 10,000m, exhibiting a peerless display of endurance, and a shot put duel for the ages, the gold medal grabbed via a rare combination of physical and mental strength – the first night of the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 had just about everything.

And that’s before we even get to the first five events of the men’s decathlon, which seems set up for a riveting conclusion on day two.

We’ll start with the men’s shot put, an event that started at a simmer, slowly came to a boil and finished with an absolute flourish.

Entering the fifth round, it appeared for all the world like South Africa’s Kyle Blignaut was set for gold, having thrown a decent if unexceptional 21.12m to start, which had stood the test of time in the rounds that followed.

But then up stepped Adrian Piperi of USA, who hurled a whopping North American U20 record of 22.06m, which moved him to fifth on the all-time U20 lists.

That had to be enough for gold, right?


Just seconds later, Blignaut entered the circle and dug deep into his reserves to find an incredible, almost illogically perfect throw of 22.07m. It gave him gold by the tiniest margin, and the moment his mark came up on the board he threw his arms in the air in exultation.

Piperi will no doubt find his silver bittersweet given his outstanding runner-up mark of 22.06m, while back in third there was nothing but delight for Greece’s Odysseas Mouzenidis, who set a national U20 record of 21.07m.


The first night of action saw two distance finals take place, with Kenya snatching gold in both.

Beatrice Chebet took the women’s 5000m in 15:30.77, with compatriot Rhonex Kipruto winning the men’s 10,000m in 27:21.08, a championship record.

But while the gold medals are set to head to the same destination next week, the manner in which they were earned couldn’t have contrasted more. Kipruto won his title via a long, punishing run from home in the 25-lap race, his decisive move coming a little over 3000m from home.

The early pace was cut out by Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo, a bronze medallist in the same race two years ago, who passed 3000m in a steady but far scorching 8:25.42.

Soon the Ugandan grew tired of the river of men flowing in his slipstream, so he moved to the side, the first time Kipruto hit the front. The Kenyan injected a noticeable surge which whittled the leading pack to five, but shortly after the halfway point he got sick of being in front and slowed quickly, forcing teammate Solomon Boit to take a turn.

The key change of pace came in the seventh kilometre, which Kipruto covered in 2:38.76, then followed it up with kilometre splits of 2:42.51 and 2:42.18.

That left him all alone out front, and he never looked like faltering as he reeled off another 2:37.68 split to finish, his lead only growing as he approached the line to win by a wide distance.

His two 5000m splits were 13:57.22 and 13:23.86.

“I’m very happy, it was a great day,” said Kipruto. “It was an honour to represent my country and my people. The competitors were tough but I was able to stay focused.”

Kiplimo came through strongly for second in 27:40.36, while Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi took third with 27:48.41.

The women’s 5000m, meanwhile, turned into a burn-up over the final lap, which Beatrice Chebet covered in a blistering 62.66 to take gold.

The Japanese duo of Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu and Miku Moribayashi made the pace respectable in the early stages but drifted back into the pack before 2000m. The pace didn’t pick up again until Ethiopia’s Ejegayehu Taye put in a 71.87 lap – the first lap at sub-15-minute pace – through the 4000-metre checkpoint in 12:40.12.

This was followed by a 72.31 last lap and by the bell, which was reached in 14:28.11, the pack was reduced to four. With a final kilometre of 2:50.66, Chebet crossed the finish line in a 15:30.77 PB, winning by just 0.10 from Taye.

“I am happy to win the gold medal for my country,” said Chebet. “It was tough racing the two Ethiopians as they are strong but I had a good fight with them.”

Taye also set a lifetime best although the 18-year-old was hoping for more on her European debut.

“Second feels bad,” she said. “I wanted first. The time was good and the team tactics were good. They worked but we still wanted the gold medal.”

Third place went to Ethiopia’s Girmawit Gebrzihair in 15:34.01.


At the halfway point of the men’s decathlon, Australian Ashley Moloney is in firm command after a great day for the 18-year-old, where he racked up 4319 points in total, leaving him with an overnight lead of 216 points from compatriot Gary Haasbroek.

Moloney started the day as he meant to go on, with a superb breakthrough performance in the 100m to win in 10.51, a championship best. That put him in firm command, but his whole championships was soon at stake in the long jump where he fouled the first two attempts.

With the pressure at its peak, he produced a safe leap of 7.06m to keep himself in contention on his final effort. In the shot put, his opening effort of 12.83m was his best, and that sent him into the afternoon session in third place behind France’s Makenson Gletty and Finley Gaio.

That’s when Moloney turned the screw on his rivals, producing a stunning display in the high jump. He first soared over a PB of 2.07m, then raised the bar to 2.10m, which he cleared at the first attempt. That netted him 896 points which edged him in front of Gletty on the overall standings.

In the 400m, however, everything changed.

Gletty pulled up injured shortly after departing the blocks, while fellow Frenchman Steven Fauvel-Clinch never even made it to the start line after injuring himself in the high jump.

Moloney, meanwhile, seized full advantage, powering his way around the track from lane two to take a decisive victory in 46.86, a world U20 decathlon 400m best.

Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF

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Pihlajalinna provides first aid for the audience in the IAAF World U20 Championships!

You can find our First Aid tent in the expo area, close to the Laukonsilta bridge. We will help with all health-related questions and direct you to the proper care, if the issue can’t be solved at our First Aid tent. Our medical center Pihlajalinna Koskiklinikka is located only a few hundred meters from the Ratina stadium. Several experienced general practitioners and specialists are on call daily.

Opening hours / Acute care, injuries (without appointment)

Monday–Friday 8.00–20.00 Saturday–Sunday 10.00–16.00

Phone number +358 10 312 149


Pihlajalinna Koskiklinikka, Koskikeskus-shopping center, Hatanpään valtatie 1

Fair play on the podium at IAAF World Junior Championships in Tampere

The World U20 Championships in Athletics will participate in the international challenge campaign for fair sports. The championships hosted by Tampere from 10 to 15 July is the world’s most international sports event of the year. The event will host athletes from over 170 countries.

The IAAF World Junior Championships opening ceremony features the Golden Baton that promotes the message of clean and fair sports. Twenty-eight international sports events organized in Finland have taken part in the challenge.

The Goalball European Championships challenged the Junior Championships as goalballer Susanna Halme passed on the Golden Baton to decathlete Juuso Toivonen.

“We had a great Goalball Championships in Pajulahti. The atmosphere was amazing. We are bringing the message of fair play and clean sports to you here in Tampere. Keep your spirits high and aim for great performances,” said goalballer Susanna Halme.

“Thank you for the message of the Golden Baton. It’s great to pass on the message of fair play. We promise to compete fairly and cleanly. We, the athletes, also invite the spectators to encourage us in the spirit of fair play,” says decathlete Juuso Toivonen.

The Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) has an information stand for athletes together with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Integrity Unit. The stand provides information about clean sports and athletes can sign a statement of support for fair play. In a darts competition, the most skilled players can win a dartboard. FINCIS also encourages athletes to promote fair play in social media.

FINCIS has an information stand also for the public in the Expo Area during the evening competitions. Fun competitions and information about fair play are in store. You can also get a flag tattoo of your favourite country at the information stand.

Around 1,700 athletes will participate in Tampere World Junior Championships. The level of results is expected to be very high in the light of the summer’s statistics.


For more information, please contact:

Susanna Sokka

FINCIS – Information Manager

tel. +358 40 740 7477





Welcome to the opening ceremony – Free entry!

Opening ceremony of IAAF World U20 Championships will be held in Monday 9.7. at 6:30PM at the Olympic-square between Stadium and the Ratina Shopping center.

Free entry!



TIME:                 09.07.18 klo 18.30

VENUE:             Venue is between stadium and Ratina shopping centre.




18.30                  Drummergroup Takomo and Trick Acrobatic Group Vellusta – first show.

                             Host of the evening, Former Long jumper, Mr Tommi Evilä. Short welcome greetings.

                             March of the Flags.

                             National anthem of the Republic of Finland. Tape or singer. Flag of Finland to pole .

                             LOC President, Mr Perttu Pesä

                             Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports FINCIS gives to LOC a baton of clean sport. It challenges the resipient to promote                                   clean sports and to commit to its values.

                             Lord Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF

                             Official opening. Lord Mayor of the City of Tampere, Mr, Lauri Lyly

                             Vellusta Trick Acrobatics and drummeres of Takomo. Show 2.   Pyroshow.

19.15                  Host. Finish of the openings.

                             Music until 19.30.