Event Report - Women's Long Jump - Final
Brittney Reese of the United States celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's Long Jump final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images)
If at first you don't succeed, then try and try again. That is precisely the approach taken by Brittney Reese, the newly-crowned women's Long Jump champion.
The American hadn't had the best of luck at her previous two appearances at global championships. In both Osaka and Beijing, she jumped further in qualifying than she did in the final, finishing eighth in 2007 and fifth last year.
But 2009 has seen an improved Reese - not only physically, but psychologically. The 22-year-old jumped a PB of 7.06m in Belem earlier in the year and a wind-assisted 7.09m at the US Trials. Reese led the World Lists coming into Berlin, but there was a question mark over her ability to perform in a championship final.
Not any more. Reese opened with a 6.92m leap to throw down the gauntlet. The best responses came from defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia (6.78m), Portugal's Naide Gomes (6.77m) and Karin Mey Melis of Turkey (6.76m), but all were playing second fiddle.
Lebedeva then flew out to 6.97m in round two to take the lead. It was short-lived, however. Reese unleashed an almighty - if not technically refined - jump of 7.10m for a world lead, a PB, and pole position.
Gomes, the pre-event favourite who was competing with some strapping on her left ankle, responded immediately with the very next jump of competition, looking to have landed further than Reese, but it was judged to be a foul.
During this round Olga Kucherenko of Russia, facing possible exit from the competition after two fouls, pulled out a 6.77m leap on her third attempt to jump into a medal position. Keila Costa of Brazil was not so fortunate and she was the first to leave, having registered three fouls.
Former South African Mey Melis nailed her best result of the night in the third round with a 6.80m jump. It also proved a good round for Shara Proctor, who leapt to an Anguillan record of 6.71m.
At half way, anything less than 6.60m proved not good enough to get three more jumps, which meant it was the end of the road for Brianna Glenn of the USA (6.59m), Teresa Dobija of Poland (6.58m) and Nastassia Mironchyk of Belarus (6.29m).
However, it may as well have been the end of the competition for all of the finalists, as no one improved in rounds four, five or six. The only slight change in positions was Gomes moving up to fourth on countback, thanks to her 6.69m in round five. Had she been able to replicate her 6.86m from the qualifying round, Gomes would have been in a medal position.
But agonisingly it was to be another fourth-place finish for Gomes, matching her result from Osaka. Lebedeva held on for silver, and Melis took the bronze, winning Turkey's first ever field event medal at the IAAF World Championships.
Olympic champion Maurren Higa Maggi of Brazil was never a factor, jumping 6.68m in round one and passing her final two attempts to place sixth. European indoor champion Ksenia Balta of Estonia was eighth with 6.62m, also achieved in round one.
Reese's 7.10m is the best winning mark since 1993, the last time the World Championships was held in Germany, when Heike Drechsler won with 7.11m.
With relative youngster Reese now having broken her major championship duck, she will doubtless go on to bigger and better things. And it is scary to think about how far she could potentially jump once she irons out the flaws in her technique!
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
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