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A World Record in the Women's Triple Jump

Shared Gold Medals in the Men's High Jump

And a Surprise Victor in the Men's 100m Final!

 8 1 21 DeGrasse Jacobs Kerley

_DSC9081.jpgAndre De Grasse (bronze, 9.89 PB), Marcel Jacobs (9.80 NR PB, gold), Fred Kerley (9.84 PB, silver), photo : Randy Miyazaki@TaFphoto>

OG/Day Three: 

August 1st, 2021

Sunday evening's session of Day Three of Athletics in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is instantly being hailed as "one of the greatest sessions in-stadium track & field history." And rightly so: a world record in the women's triple jump; shared gold medals in one of the most intriguing high jump competitions of all time; and a surprise victor in the men's 100-meter final - the first Olympic sprint final in the post-Bolt era.

The final of the women's triple jump launched the evening session off with a bang when Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas stretched out a first-round jump of 50'6¾ " [15.41m] to set a new Olympic record, taking down a 13-year old Games standard of 50'6" [15.39m]. The record leap by the heavily-favored athlete immediately set a tone of excitement in the session's early going.

Often a record opening mark in a field event is followed by the athlete letting down, confident of a victorious outcome. But Rojas pressed on. And on her 6th and final attempt, the lanky 6'4" triple jumper exhorted the small but boisterous crowd to join her in rhythmic clapping. Hitting the board just right and despite an inexplicably short 2nd phase - the "skip" phase - Rojas sailed high and far landing beyond the world record marker. As the white flag flew up, an animated Rojas waited eagerly for the infield's result display: 51' 5" [15.67m] - a new world record. The flag-draped champion exuded joy and tears as those in the stadium knew they had just witnessed a very special moment.

8 1 21 Rojas

But the spectators didn't know that Olympic magic was just getting underway.

At the far end of the infield, 13 finalists were engaged in a hard-fought battle in the men's high jump. When the bar was raised to 7'8½" [2.35m], 7 athletes remained in the competition: Notable among them were Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi, - both of whom were still sporting blemish-free jump cards. Also in the hunt, but with three misses on his card, was USA's, JuVaughn Harrison. The Trials champion looked fatigued, perhaps feeling the effects of his collegiate-extended 2021 indoor, outdoor, and international seasons. At that height, the remaining 5 athletes either cleared or passed as the bar went up to 7'9¼" [2.37m] making this group of 7 the largest field of high jump athletes ever to compete at that height in the same Olympic competition. This new imposing height spelled the end for Mikhail Akimenko; Tamberi and Barshim cleared the new height on their first attempts as did Belarus's Maksim Nedasekau while Harrison, Korea's Woo, and Austria's Starc all passed after first attempt failures. Despite valiant but unsuccessful efforts by all six remaining athletes at the next height - at an other-worldly Olympic record height of 7"10" [2.39m] - the competition appeared to be over. But was it? Nedasekau, with earlier misses, had clearance at 2.37m and was the clear bronze medalist. But Barshim and Tamberi had identical cards with first attempt clearances all the way through 2.37m with 3 misses only at 2.39m.

Would there be a jump-off or would the two tied competitors agree to share the gold medal? The officials conferred with Barshim and Tamberi to explain the situation and elicit their preferred approach. In a joint decision borne out of mutual respect and sportsmanship, the two deadlocked top performers agreed to forego a jump-off and to accept duplicate gold medals - a fitting conclusion to a gripping competition and an outcome consistent with the time-honored Olympic value of sportsmanship. What followed was a frenetic moment of joint celebration between the two gold medal champions and their respective support teams. Afterward, Barshim, the reigning world champion in the high jump, offered clarity on the decision to share the gold. "I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it," explains the co-champion calmly. "We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need."

8 1 21 TAmberi and Barshim Share Gold

The evening session concluded with the final of the men's 100 meters. This final - the first Olympic sprint championship in the post-Bolt era - was seen as a wide-open affair with no identifiable pre-race favorite. The lack of sprint clarity only increased when China's Su Bingtian uncorked a 9.84 semi-final win earlier in the day, adding himself to the growing list of potential medal contenders.

Olympic 100 meter finals are always laced with tension. And today's championship race was no exception. The anxiety only grew when Great Britain's Zharnel Hughes committed a clear false start and was red-carded to the sideline. After regrouping, the race got underway. USA's Fred Kerley and Italy's Lamont Jacobs gained an early advantage as they battled down the straightaway with USA's Ronnie Baker working hard to join the fray. In the meantime, Canada's Andre DeGrasse, burdened by an absolutely woeful start and still last at 50 meters, was closing fast. In what can only be described as a surprise, Jacobs [9.80 PR] crossed the line first, the clear victor and ringing up the 2nd gold medal of the evening for Italy. Kerley [9.84 PR], the reformed 400m athlete, finished 2nd with DeGrasse [9.89 PR] getting up for the bronze.

8 1 21 DeGrasse Jacobs Kerley

_DSC9051.jpgAndre De Grasse and Fred Kerley, Canada and US take sprint medals, but it is Italy that gets gold, photo: photo : Randy Miyazaki@TaFphoto>

In hindsight - always 20/20 vision - Jacobs win should have come as no true surprise: the Italian national record holder improved that national record in the preliminary round, clocking a 9.94 PR. In the semi-final round, Jacobs' 9.84 PR set a new European record. And in the final, Jacobs rang up yet another personal, national, and European improvement with his 9.80 clockings to win 100-meter gold. Before leaving the stadium, Kerley reflected on the 100m final and his performance. "I executed the race perfectly and I came up with a silver medal," said Kerley. "I can't complain. The race was a beautiful race. I got a PB (personal best) and a silver medal. I am blessed to be at the biggest stage of my career." / / Dave Hunter /

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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