Oh my Bydgoszcz doesn’t time fly? Saturday and Sunday rounded off the 2016 World U20 Champs in suitably dramatic style. It’s time for the final part of the Bydgoszcz Wrap!
The night before Saturday’s pole vault final, Deakin Volz received a text.
“Time to go get 5.60m,” it said. The sender was his father, former pro vaulter Dave, who finished fifth at the ‘92 Olympics.
Volz junior went one better than his pop’s recommendation, topping out at a lifetime best 5.65m to win gold over Rio-bound Aussie Kurtis Marschall.
Kids never listen.
Cry me a sand pit
The battle for bronze in the women’s triple jump provided pure emoji.
Georgiana-Iuliana Anitei’s had sat in third with 13.49m, only for Bria Davis to match it with her fourth and final attempt. The American went into the final medal position by virtue of a better second best effort.
Anitei responded with a 13.40m that gave her the better second best, winning her bronze. The Romanian leapt about like my friends the Kenyan dancers (see below) before collapsing, victoriously, into the arms of her coach.
Total 😭 😭 😭. The good kind.
Barriers to success
Who’d be a hurdler? World record holder Keni Harrison won’t be in Rio after failing to make it through the US trials.
In Byd’, the U20 spectacle proved just as unpredictable as the senior lottery. In the prelims on Friday, world youth champion Maribel Caicedo clattered a barrier and didn’t make it to the finish line.
In Sunday’s final, American Tia Jones and Nigerian Oluwatobiloba Amusan, the two fastest ranked athletes coming into the champs, were slow out the blocks. US U20 champion Alexis Duncan was quickest into her race and led until hurdle nine, when a technical blip saw the field catch her.
Elvira Herman was coolest amongst the chaos, peeking through to take gold in a championship record 12.85.
The top five were all under 13 seconds, the first time in history that has happened.
“You just can’t find emotion like this anywhere else,” Herman said after her win. They are words that could just as easily be applied to the event as a whole
Before the steeplechase and 800m finals on Sunday the Kenyan and Eritrean contenders could be found napping in the indoor warm-up area.
Outside, their teammates, having already competed, were having an impromptu party that we felt obliged to join in with.
It was a nice reminder that all the athletes – committed in training and determined on the track – are just kids at heart.
Three falls for third
The steeplechase makes fools of us all.
Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale was within striking distance of leaders Amos Kirui and Vincent Ruto going into the water jump for the penultimate time. Unfortuantely, he literally went into it and lost thirty metres.
Somehow he hauled himself back into contention, dragging Eritrea’s Yemane Haileselassie along with him. Yet he had clearly developed a penchant for the drink, and again tasted moist Mondo on the final lap, seemingly dumping him out the medals.
It only served to redouble his determination. He and Haileselassie went for it. Ruto’s legs were failing him within yards of the line. Haileselassie passed for silver. Wale passed him with a scrambling dip that floored him for the third time, only this time no immediate recovery was needed.
His hat-trick of falls left him having to be stretchered from the track. It also won him one of the most bonkers bronze medals this correspondent has ever witnessed.
2 x (4x100) + 2 x (4x400) = USA*
The USA completed a sweep in the relays, completing a perfect game with a dramatic late win in the men's 4x400m, the last event of the whole week.
Team Botswana produced a world U20 lead 3:03.75 in the heats on Saturday, and Babaoloke Thebe ran a stunning 43.5 second leg in the Sunday finale that looked to have broken up the US dominance.
But the final Motswanan changeover was a mess, and saw a ten yard lead halved. Will London caught a leggy Xholani Talane in the final straight and crossed the line to complete a perfect four from four for the Americans.
Tram and field
Bydgoszcz is home to Pesa, Poland’s largest supplier of rail equipment. It is also home to a rather charming tram system that runs like clockwork.
This serves as a neat metaphor for the whole championshis. The good people of Byd’ host athletics competitions most days of the week. For these U20s they stepped up as hosts at the eleventh hour owing to rumblings in the East.
Dziękuje to everyone for making it an impeccably delivered championships. Dziękuje to the volunteers for believing me when I insisted that I was a coach and needed access to the warm-up track. And Dziękuje to the non existent conductors for not once asking for a ticket to ride their rickety old streetcars.
We’ll probably be back in a fortnight.