We were treated to a full roster of running, jumping and throwing on Day 2 of the Portland World Indoors. And it was GOOD.
A tale of two starts
Don’t get mad at us for kicking off today’s roundup with a numbers fest: they matter.
Any start to a race faster than 0.1 seconds is considered false. Brianne Theisen-Eaton flirted with falsehood in her pentathlon opener, the 60m hurdles. She was out the blocks in 0.106 – fastest reaction time of any athlete all day – on her way to clocking a PB 8.04 to take the lead after round one. Every decimel counts in the race for pentathlon points, and so it would prove later in the day.
It was a different story for BTE’s bae, Ashton Eaton. The multi-event king’s 0.152 reaction was seventh slowest of the 11 man heptathlon field. Yet the local boy doesn’t let a sluggish start get in the way of a win. He was as good as chuckling to himself as he powered through the remaining 58m to finish fastest in 6.81.
Ouch! This photographer was hit by a wayward shot puthttps://t.co/0Jk9aSCSAN— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) March 18, 2016
The tight, banked bends on a 200m indoor track make for tactical, physical racing. Elbows abound in the fight for prime position. Jamaica’s Chrisann Gordon was pushed off the track in the 400m heats, literally dumping her out of the running.
But the accolade for most painful collision of the day goes to Victah Sailer, the photographer who got a shot to the shin courtesy of American pentathlete Kendell Williams. Sailer dealt with it like a pro, giving the afflicted area a quick rub, getting on with his job and waiting for the break between session before filing the writ.
Ground Force to Major Tom
That wasn’t the only eye-catching moment in the shot put area today.
New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh shares a name with a well-known British celebrity handyman (yes, such things exist), and he was the man with the best tool in his box as he took gold with an area record 21.78m. In fact, Walsh had the five best tools in his box, notching an unbeatable series that included a quintet of 21m+ efforts that none of his rivals could boast. Very handy indeed.
The long jump beast
Walsh’s big one came with his very last throw, just like Brittney Reese’s winning effort in the long jump.
It was an epic final that needed a special jump to beat current European indoor champ Ivana Spanovic. The Serbian showed she meant business by notching an indoor national record 7.00m with her opening jump. She then extended that to 7.07m – an absolute national record – in the penultimate round.
But Inglewood’s own Reese is a clutch performer, as well as a loud one. The American lets out an audible yelp as she takes off, and the loudest yelp of the night provided the soundtrack to her last gasp 7.22m. It was the best indoor jump since she took the same title with 7.23m in 2012. She now has a third world indoor title to add to her three outdoor world and one Olympic gold medals. Seven global titles in all, making her the most decorated female long jumper since the dawn of athletics.
Yes, to repeat, the numbers do matter. They mattered more than ever in the men’s 60m final, where there was only 0.09 secs between first and last, making it the tightest race ever. It was also the fastest: the first time in history that all eight ran 6.56 or quicker.
Divvying up the medals was a task akin to etching the Greek dictionary on a pinhead, and we had to wait seven minutes before we could confirm the gifting of silver to Asafa Powell and bronze to Ramon Gittens.
Identifying the winner was slightly less hard. Trayvon Bromell was sharp out of the blocks and finished in a PB 6.47. The world’s fastest teenager is the world indoor champion at the tender age of 20. That’s another significant number, as it makes him the youngest ever champion in the event.
She did it
Waiting for that top three to be confirmed was arduous, but nowhere near as taxing as the wait to hear who had taken the pentathlon honours at the conclusion of the 800m. Starting the final event in third, BTE faced an uphill task if she was to earn her first global title.
She had to finish 10.7 seconds faster than Anastasiya Mokhnyuk if she was to overhaul her in the standings, and with a lap and half to go it looked on. The heptathletes, competing in the high jump, let her know that it was do-able, non more than her hubbie, who was pogoing around the infield like the floor had 40,000 vaults running through it.
The Canadian brought the race home and our maths told us she’d done it, but we weren’t sure until Statman Jon told us so. Then he did tell us so. And we wept. We wept for Brianne; we wept for Anistasiya; we wept for athletics; we wept for the fastest reaction time of the day.