The Portland World Indoors delivered again. This is the little letter that the postman had in his bag for us on Day 3 of these incredible championships.
Happy and you know it
What’s cooler than being cool? Enjoying yourself!
All three medallists in the women’s triple jump looked like they were having a great time out on the runway – their smiles only widening once their podium spots were confirmed.
Greece’s Paraskevi Papachristou celebrated taking the lead in round two with a sandypants dance. Similarly, Germany’s Kristin Gierisch couldn’t contain her jubilated disbelief after taking silver with a season’s best 14.30m, leaping from the pit before collapsing into the arms of her coach.
It only takes one jump
Coolest of them all was Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas. She might have fouled five of her six jumps, but her one legal attempt was the biggest ever indoor triple jump on American soil.
She went out to 14.41m to take the first ever world indoor gold for her country. Rojas loved it, and the crowd loved her loving it.
The Tamberi Show
The high jump provided one of the most entertaining spectacles of the week so far. It was a hot field, full of athletes who know how to work a crowd as well as jump really high.
China’s Guowei Zhang was all praying mantis and bogus martial arts (see main image), while Erik Kynard was getting the home fans roused for every one of his efforts, ultimately winning bronze with a best of 2.33m.
But it was Gianmarco Tamberi, the man with half a beard, who really caught the eye. Ol’ half shave has made a name for his unique look, the crowd taking to him not just for his style but for his enthusiasm, and ultimately his 2.36m performance.
Tonight the Italian’s metà-stubble will be doubled, reflecting, as it will, on the shiny gold medal hanging round his neck.
To me, to you
Yesterday’s men’s shot put comp was a Tommy Walsh exhibition. Today, the women gave us a battle royale.
Valerie Adams took the lead in round one (18.49m). Michelle Carter took up the running in round two (18.90m). Adams responded to edge in front in round three (19.25m). Carter hit back straight away to lead going into round four (19.31m). From nowhere Anita Marton hit a Hungarian national indoor record to take control with her final throw (19.33m). Then, with the very last put of the contest, Carter delivered the decisive blow: a 20.21m world lead to take gold.
It was just as pulsating to watch as that last paragraph is confusing to read.
Boris on his bike
Carter’s epic throw came two minutes after another epic performance from another American. Boris Berian’s 800m gold might also go down in US folklore.
Two years ago he was working in MacDonalds and sleeping on whichever of his friends’ couches was free. Tonight he ran like he meant it. The college dropout hit halfway in 49.73. Is that fast? Damn right it’s fast – when David Rudisha broke the outdoor half mile WR he clocked a 49.28 400m split.
When an athlete not called Rudisha takes it out to the twilight zone it normally ends with the lights going out, but Berian, egged on by the raucous Oregon crowd, held and held and held to take a ballsy gold that no one will dispute.
Showing her teeth
We enjoy watching Sifan Hassan race becuase, to be frank, she never looks bothered. Underneath her CBA look is a fierce competitor.
The Dutchwoman came into these championships as the reigning European champ over 1500m both indoors and out. She’s come up short on a global level in the past, but today she ground out the win, holding off the challenge of three Ethiopians behind her.
It was so brilliant a performance that she even gave us a 😃.
In all there were eight medals for the Americans tonight: four of them gold.
Barbara Pierre ran away from Dutch powerhouse Dafne Schippers in the 60m to earn a world title that will go nicely with the national one she took on the same track last week. Other US medals came in the 800m (bronze for Erik Sowinksy behind Berian) and the 400m (silver to Ashley Spencer and bronze to Quanera Hayes).
Portland represents a return to form for Team USA, who finished third in the medal table at last year’s outdoor world championships. With a day still to play the red, white and blue have eight gold medals, 15 in all (no other team has more than one gold). Half of those came tonight, a fact that the ringing in our ears can attest to.
Man on a mission
Now for the most unsurprising thing anyone will say all week: Ashton Eaton won heptathlon gold. There was no world record this time, but you can’t begrudge a man who wins a third straight world indoor title. It was his sixth consecutive global multi-event title, and extends his unbeaten run in the multis to a fifth year.
At the official opening meal, the University of Oregon gradtuate delivered a speech about how he was inspired to want to become a professional athlete after being taken to Hayward Field as a kid. Now 28, he’s making it his mission to let the next gen’ know what’s possible.
“Hopefully [the crowd] still got something out of this,” he said afterwards, almost apologising for not breaking his own world record. “I really hope that I could kind of inspire some of the young kids here in Portland who are like, ‘He’s from Portland just like me! Maybe one day I’ll be able to do that.’”
Maybe one day they will. But for now we should all just enjoy another stellar performance from the greatest multi-event athlete who ever lived.