The first world U18 best of the championships was set today when Jordan Diaz of Cuba reached an incredible 17.30m in the fourth round of the boys' triple jump final, having set a championship record of 17.00m on his previous jump.
“I am very happy to have set the record here in Nairobi,” the elated Cuban said after the final. “I also thank my parents for their support. The crowd cheered me on, which was a great feeling.”
Diaz's mark erased the old best of 17.24m, set by his compatriot Lazaro Martinez in 2014. The 16-year old, who will still be eligible for U18 competition in 2018, improved his pre-competition best by 64 centimetres and moved to seventh on the 2017 world senior list.
In a closely fought battle for the other medals, South American U18 champion Frixon David Chilla of Ecuador took the silver with a personal best of 15.92m. Just behind him, Arnovis de Jesus Palmero of Colombia took bronze with 15.89m, also a personal best, with Yusniel Jorrin of Cuba a mere centimetre behind.
Diaz took control right from the start, with his 15.99m the best jump in round one by nearly half a metre. He went better on his second attempt, reaching 16.25m. By that point, everyone else would have needed a big personal best to get close.
But as it turned out, that was only the start. In the third round, Diaz executed much better technically and as soon as he landed, the spectators knew they had witnessed something special. And then the result flashed up on the board: 17.00m. The Cuban thus became not just the championship record holder, but also the second U18 athlete ever to reach the 17-metre barrier.
As Diaz stood up on the runway for his fourth jump, there was an air of excitement among the audience. Could he go even farther?
That question was answered in emphatic manner. The stadium exploded as Diaz landed well beyond the 17-metre line. And then exploded again when the distance was announced as 17.30m. The first world U18 best of these championships had just been set.
It must have been difficult to focus again after such a fantastic performance, so it was no surprise that Diaz passed on his next jump and fouled on his last.
Behind the Cuban, there was a hot battle going on for the other medals, starring the remaining Latin American jumpers. After Chilla had reached 15.50m in the first round, then Arnovis Dalmero overtook him with 15.52m in round two, before Cuba's No.2 Yusniel Jorrin jumped 15.57m.
On their third attempts, there was more change. Chilla, first in the jumping order, had a big one of 15.81m, re-taking the runner-up spot, but not for long. Dalmero responded with 15.89m, his best ever by a quarter of a metre.
Jorrin had a big foul in that round, but he made up for it on his next attempt. A jump of 15.88m moved him once again into the medals.
But again, it didn’t last long. In the fifth round, the Ecuadorian improved yet again, this time to a personal best of 15.92m.
There was no change to the medal order in the final round, although Jorrin had another good effort just short of what was necessary to make the podium. It was measured at 15.87m, just two centimetres away from a medal.
Owayne Owens of Jamaica finished in fifth with a last-round 15.55m. And there was the unusual sight of an Ethiopian placing well in a jumping event, as Adir Gur took sixth with 15.42m.