Hayward Field, Eugene, USA, 28 May 2016.
The 2016 outdoor season in the Men’s Triple Jump had begun rather sluggishly following the highs of last year’s Diamond League and World Championship contests. However, yesterday’s Diamond League competition in Eugene, Oregon, saw the event explode back into the headlines as the 2016 World Lead was extended by 48cm and a leap close to 18 metres toe-to-heel took victory in a great duel between two of the events biggest lights.
America’s Chris Carter was a late withdrawal from the competition, reducing the field to 7 jumpers, and soon into Round 1 we were down to 6 as an horrific step landing on the side of his ankle by Marquis Dendy meant he was unable to continue. Luckily Dendy wasn’t injured as badly as had been first feared and hopefully he will be back in time to compete at the American Olympic Trials at the start of July in both the Long and Triple Jumps.
Of the remaining competitors it was Omar Craddock who got off to the best start with an opening leap of 17.13m to indicate what he could have been capable of in Portland in March, at the World Indoor Championships, had he been fully fit. Will Claye improved his season’s best to 16.98m in Round 1, while Christian Taylor responded with a solid 17.09m.
In Round 2 Alexis Copello of Cuba hit his usual 16.90m+ form with 16.91m jump into a -0.8m/s headwind. That was to prove his best mark of the day, but still good enough for 4th place as World Leader Dong Bin hit his most disappointing series of the year so far (16.62m, 16.42m, 16.82m) for 5th, while Teddy Tamgho couldn’t improve on his opening effort of 16.51m to take 6th spot.
No improvements came from the top 3 in Round 2 (Craddock 16.93m, Claye foul, Taylor 16.96m), but while Craddock could only hit 16.73m in Round 3, Claye leapt out to 17.26w (+2.1m/s) for the longest Triple Jump in the world this year. Thriving, as ever, on a challenge from his rivals, Taylor took to the runway in 3rd place but left it in 1st and World Leader as he bounded out to 17.46m (+1.2m/s).
In Round 4 Craddock hit 17.00m before Claye came tantalisingly close to Taylor’s lead with a fantastic effort of 17.40m (+0.3m/s). Taylor passed his 4th effort, as did Craddock in Round 5, leaving little rest between attempts for Claye who hit 17+ metres for the 3rd time with 17.24m. Taylor’s 5th attempt hit 17.38m, no improvement on his lead but clearly in the groove as the 3 protagonists went into the final round.
Craddock improved to 17.15m in his last attempt to move to 5th in the world this year in his first outing of the summer and will, no doubt, prove to be a closer challenger at the Olympic Trials when even fitter. Will Claye then took the runway, bounded out to 17.56m (+0.8m/s) and sprinted away in excitement – Game On! In Olympic year the Silver medallist from London was looking close to his best and clearly relishing being back on a par with his American rival. With one jump left in the competition, and having just seen top position taken away from him with a new World Lead, there can be few jumpers in the world you would back to respond with the confidence that Taylor always seems to exhibit in such situations. Down the runway he sped and, despite taking off behind the board, he bounded out and cut the sand 20cm ahead of Claye’s mark – 17.76m (+0.8m/s) for yet another World Lead and another Diamond League victory!
Christian Taylor’s early season form may have hinted that the Olympic crown was far from secure for him, and any hope of challenging Jonathan Edwards’ World Record was merely a pipe dream, but given his last bound at Eugene (around 17.96m toe-to-heel), his competitiveness and self-belief in the most challenging situations, Saturday’s competition may have reasserted his position as Olympic favourite and the man to take the event to the next level.
- Christian Taylor (USA) 17.76m (WORLD LEAD)
- Will Claye (USA) 17.56m
- Omar Craddock (USA) 17.15m
- Alexis Copello (Cuba) 16.91m
- Bin Dong (China) 16.82m
- Teddy Tamgho (France) 16.51m
- Marquis Dendy (USA) NM