Stade de France, Saint-Denis, Paris, France, 27 August 2016.
The penultimate competition of the 2016 Diamond League Men’s Triple Jump event on Saturday saw the closest contest of the season as just 2cm spearated the top 3 jumpers. The field of 11 included 8 who had competed in Rio, but victory went to an athlete who didn’t make his national team for the Olympics and was eager to prove his worth on the global stage.
Going into Paris, Oslo winner Alexis Copello of Cuba lay 2nd in the Diamond Race with 20pts behind the double World and Oympic Champion Christian Taylor’s 40pts. Taylor was absent in Paris but Copello (left out of the Cuban Olympic team despite the selection of Pedro Pablo Pichardo who has been injured all season and ultimately withdrew on the morning of the Olympic qualifying round) was present and made the first impact on the competition with his 16.75m opening jump. This led at the end of the round from the 16.68m leap of Olympic 7th placer Troy Doris of Guyana, his best of the day, and 16.61m from USA’s Chris Carter.
Colombia’s John Murillo set a National Record of 17.09m in placing 5th in Rio, and after a 1st round foul in Paris he improved in round 2 to 16.71m before Copello increased his lead with 16.80m. European Championships silver medallist, Karol Hoffman of Poland, had finished 12th in Rio with 16.31m, but in Paris his 2nd round 16.78m took him into 2nd place before the event came to life in round 3.
Murillo moved into the lead with his 3rd round 16.90m before Copello matched him and took the lead back on countback. Now lying in 5th place and looking likely to miss out on 3 extra jumps, American Indoor Champion Chris Carter then took the lead with 16.92m. Doris jumped next, ousted to 5th, but could only reach 16.64m, below Hoffman’s 16.78m, and missed the cut to the last 3 rounds.
During the last 3 rounds Hoffman and Murillo recorded no valid jumps between them as they pressed the board for extra distance but on his last round jump Copello reached out to 16.85m, but that was still 7cm short of Carter’s lead and Diamond League victory went to the American. It was probably a small consolation for Carter who missed selection for the Olympics after having placed 6th at the USA Olympic Trials and a deserved spot at the World Indoor Championships earlier in the year, despite winning the USA Indoor Championships with 17.06m.
Going into the last Men’s Triple Jump of the 2016 Diamond League season in Zurich on Thursday, 1 September, due to double points being on offer Christian Taylor (40pts) can still be caught by Alexis Copello (26pts), while Chris Carter (20pts) can match his score but has fewer victories in the bag. Nothing can be taken for granted, but Copello’s failure to capitalise in Paris should be enough for Taylor to seal his outstanding year with the Diamond League crown later this week.