World U20: Hibbert springs triple jump stunner to win gold in Cali Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

One jump was all it took. Breaking the championship record in the first round of the final, Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert claimed the triple jump crown in superb style on the penultimate day of the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia on Friday night.

The 17-year-old secured silver at the last edition of the World U20 Championships in Nairobi last year and was favourite to go one better in Cali. But the manner in which he did that left him stunned. After landing in the sand, he leapt straight back up and glanced at the pit, grabbing his head in shock as he saw how far he had travelled. Collapsing to the track, still with his head in his hands, he waited for the measurement. When it showed – a 17.27m championship record – he was overcome with emotion.

Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert celebrates. (PHOTO: World Athletics).

Understandably so. The mark – a PB by 61cm – puts him second on the world U18 all-time list and makes him the equal eighth best U20 athlete in the history of the event. Only one other Jamaican – Olympic and world long jump silver medallist James Beckford – has ever gone farther with his 17.92m national record set in 1995.

The competition for gold was all but over. Returning to the runway, Hibbert backed up that 17.27m (0.0m/s) leap with 16.82m (-0.2m/s) in the second round, and then decided to call it a day knowing that he must surely have done enough.

He won by more than a metre. With the gold decided, there was a close battle for silver – Hibbert’s fellow 17-year-old Selva P. Thirumaran of India clinching it with a 16.15m PB, two centimetres ahead of Estonia’s Viktor Morozov, the 18-year-old who also claimed European U20 bronze last year.

New Zealand’s Ethan Olivier finished fourth with 16.03m and again just two centimetres separated him from the next best, USA’s Floyd Whitaker finishing fifth with a 16.01m PB.

“Right now, I can’t even soak it up. I didn’t see this coming, I’m speechless,” said Hibbert, who will still be young enough to compete at the 2024 World U20 Championships in Lima, Peru. “This was a big surprise because I actually came to the competition with a knee pain and I didn’t even have a proper run up today. So, wow.”

Jamaica’s Brandon Pottinger competes in the men’s high jump in Cali. (PHOTO: World Athletics).

Prior to Cali, Jamaica had never claimed gold in a jumps event at the World U20 Championships. Now the nation has two, Brandon Pottinger dealing best with the challenging conditions to win the high jump. The 18-year-old hadn’t been among the favourites going into the championships, but that meant nothing come competition day, when the weather added another dimension to the contest.

Entering at 2.05m, the Jamaican U20 champion needed two attempts to make it over that opening height, but then soared clear at 2.10m on the first time of asking. The competition was paused at that point, as a storm passed over the Pascual Guerrero Olympic Stadium. Six athletes remained in contention – Pottinger joined by South African favourite Brian Raats, Bulgarian U20 champion Bozhidar Saraboyukov, Martin Lefevre of France, Yeh Po-Ting of Chinese Taipei and Hungary’s Matyas Guth.

The next height proved a challenge for all but Pottinger. As athletes returned to the field of play with the bar at 2.14m, one by one they knocked it down. But as he did for his opening height, the Jamaican soared over it on his second try and that would prove to be the winning clearance.

With both Raats, who has cleared 2.26m this year, and Saraboyukov having perfect records up to their eventual bests of 2.10m, they could not be separated and so shared the silver.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Roshawn Clarke hit the ninth hurdle and had to settle for bronze in the men’s 400m hurdles.

The gold medal was won by Turkey’s Ismail Nezir who achieved a national U20 record of 48.84 to make it the second gold of the day for his nation after this morning’s 10,000m men’s race walk – that’s the same number of medals Turkey had won in the entire history of the championships before this week.

Having only advanced to the final as a non-automatic qualifier, Slovenia’s Matic Ian Gucek very nearly pulled off a huge upset from lane one, the 18-year-old finishing second in a national U20 record of 48.91, having run Nezir all the way to the line. Clarke crossed the line in 49.62 for this third-place finish.

Jamaica will enter Saturday’s final day in second position behind USA in the medal table.

Jamaica have five gold, four silver and three bronze for a total of 12.

The USA are leading with five gold, four silver and four bronze for a total of 13.