World Champs Men’s Long Jump — Gayle Blows Away His Rivals

Tajay Gayle’s position on the all-time list after round 4 was higher than his place in the qualifying round the day before. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

SOMETIMES YOU JUST FIND your sweet spot and that’s what happened to Tajay Gayle on Saturday. After struggling to make the final as the last qualifier on the meet’s opening Friday, a day later he was a different man on the LJ runaway, producing the longest jump in the world for more than a decade. Not since Dwight Phillips went out to 28-8¼ (8.74) back in June of ’09 has a human being gone so far with unaided flight as Gayle’s winning jump of 28-6¼ (8.69).

The 23-year-old Jamaican, who moved to No. 11 on the all-time world list, was on fire from the get-go. Jumping third in the order he cut the sand at 27-9¼ (8.46), a 6¼-inch (14cm) improvement on his previous best which alone would have sufficed for gold.

All eyes were on how Juan Miguel Echevarría would respond after his 27-6¼ (8.40) to lead the qualifiers, and the prodigious 21-year-old Cuban’s opener was measured at 27-¾ (8.25) but visible disappointment was etched across his face. Suddenly the prohibitive favorite was under pressure and it was clear he knew it. Echevarría then found himself pushed down to 3rd when Jeff Henderson—the ’16 OG winner but in Doha through the back door after finishing just 5th at USATF—popped out to 27-2 (8.28) later in the first stanza.

Gayle had two big fouls around the 28-foot (c8.50m) mark with his second and third jumps, while both Echevarría and Henderson narrowed the gap in the third round with efforts of 27-4½ (8.34) and 27-6½ (8.39). With the order reshuffled in the fourth stanza, Gayle adjusted his runup and then produced his massive jump which sealed victory and, semi-stunned by his own feat, he opted to pass his remaining two attempts.

Neither Henderson nor Echevarría could improve with their final two jumps—the Cuban appearing to be visibly pressing—but nobody could overtake them so they remained holding on to silver and bronze. Gayle’s prodigious jump—the best WC mark since ’95—also consigned James Beckford’s 22-year-old Jamaican Record of 28-3½ (8.62) to history. Defending champ Luvo Manyonga had a disappointing day, ending up 4th at 27-2 (8.28).

So, what made the difference to Gayle’s performance in barely 24 hours? “I just concentrated on my runup, I just ran faster,” he commented, almost lost for words at the post-event presser after the high-quality competition which saw the top 5 jump 27ft or better.

Reigning Olympic champ Henderson was more verbose than the man who vanquished him, reflecting, “It was a good meet for me and unexpected meet for me. I’m cherishing this moment. I didn’t do many meets this year and it seems that the less meets I do, the more competitive I get. My biggest issue in this competition was actually with the time change after flying in from San Diego.

“This was a great competition and gives me a lot to look forward to next year as I’ve really been focusing on [defending his OG crown in] Tokyo,” he added, clearly delighted at his slightly unexpected return to the global championship podium with his best jump at sea-level for four years, and in the wake of crashing out of the qualifiers at the ’17 WC after winning in Rio.

Unlike Henderson, the other two U.S. jumpers struggled to find their best form. Bespectacled Steffin McCarter qualified with 26-4½ (8.04) but then fouled all three of his attempts in the final while Trumaine Jefferson failed to advance, jumping only 25-½ (7.63), a far cry from his 26-10 (8.18) PR which saw him take 2nd in the NCAA for Houston.


WC MEN’S LONG JUMP RESULTS

FINAL

(September 28; winds ranged from –0.5 to +0.5) (temperature 77F/25C, humidity 67%)

1. Tajay Gayle (Jam) 28-6¼ (8.69) NR (WL) (11, x W; outdoor 10, x W)

(27-9¼ PR, f, f, 28-6¼, p, p) (8.46, f, f, 8.69, p, p);

2. Jeff Henderson (US) 27-6½ (8.39) (AL)

(27-2, 26-10, 27-6½, 23-¾, 26-8¼, 26-9¾) (8.28, 8.18, 8.39, 7.03, 8.13, 8.17);

3. Juan Miguel Echevarría (Cub) 27-4½ (8.34)

(27-¾, 26-8½, 27-4½, 27-2¾, 25-11½, f) (8.25, 8.14, 8.34, 8.30, 7.91, f);

4. Luvo Manyonga (SA) 27-2 (8.28)

(26-9¼, 26-5, 26-10, 26-7, 26-8½, 27-2) (8.16, 8.05, 8.18, 8.10, 8.14, 8.28);

5. Ruswahl Samaai (SA) 27-0 (8.23)

(26-7¼, 26-9, 27-0, f, f, 26-5½) (8.11, 8.15, 8.23, f, f, 8.06);

6. Jianan Wang (Chn) 26-11 (8.20)

(f, 25-10¾, 26-5, f, f, 26-11) (f, 7.89, 8.05, f, f, 8.20);

7. Eusebio Cáceres (Spa) 26-3½ (8.01)

(26-3½, 20-8½, f, f, 26-1, f) (8.01, 6.31, f, f, 7.95, f);

8. Yuki Hashioka (Jpn) 26-1¾ (7.97)

(25-10¼, 25-10¾, 26-1¾, 25-8, f, 25-3¼) (7.88, 7.89, 7.97, 7.82, f, 7.70);

9. Thobias Montler (Swe) 26-1½ (7.96);

10. Miltiádis Tentóglou (Gre) 25-6¾ (7.79);

11. Shontaro Shiroyama (Jpn) 25-6 (7.77);

… 3f—Steffin McCarter (US).

first 3 rounds
* = progression of the leading mark
¶ = athlete’s best of the day
Wang f 7.89 8.05
Montler 7.88* f 7.96¶
Gayle 8.46* f f
Shiroyama 7.77¶ 7.61 7.61
Echevarría 8.25 8.14 8.34¶
Hashioka 7.88 7.89 7.97¶
Tentóglou 7.77 f 7.79¶
Henderson 8.28 8.18 8.39¶
Manyonga 8.16 8.05 8.18
Cáceres 8.01¶ 6.31 f
Samaai 8.11 8.15 8.23¶
McCarter f f f
rounds 4 and 5
Hashioka 7.82 f
Cáceres f 7.95
Wang f f
Manyonga 8.10 8.14
Samaai f f
Echevarría 8.30 7.91
Henderson 7.03 8.13
Gayle 8.69*¶ p
last round
Hashioka 7.70
Cáceres f
Wang 8.20¶
Manyonga 8.28¶
Samaai 8.06
Echevarría f
Henderson 8.17
Gayle p

QUALIFYING

(September 27; auto-qualifier 26-9/8.15)

Qualifiers: Echevarría 27-6¾ (8.40), Henderson 26-7¾ (8.12), Hashioka 26-5¾ (8.07), McCarter 26-4½ (8.04), Samaai & Cáceres 26-3½ (8.01), Tentóglou 26-3 (8.00), Shiroyama 26-¾ (7.94), Montler 26-0 (7.92), Manyonga 25-11½ (7.91), Wang & Gayle 25-10¾ (7.89).

Non-qualifiers: Henry Frayne (Aus) 25-9½ (7.86), Darcy Roper (Aus) & Yaoguang Zhang (Chn) 25-8 (7.82), Changzhou Huang (Chn) 25-7½ (7.81), Andwuelle Wright (Tri) 25-5½ (7.76), Hibiki Tsuha (Jpn) 25-4 (7.72), Héctor Santos (Spa) 25-2¾ (7.69), Emiliano Lasa (Uru) 25-1¾ (7.66), Trumaine Jefferson (US) 25-½ (7.63), Murali Sreeshankar (Ind) 25-0 (7.62), Emanuel Archibald (Guy) 24-9¾ (7.56), Henry Smith (Aus) 24-7¼ (7.50), Tyrone Smith (Ber) 24-7 (7.49), Yahya Berrabah (Mor) 24-2¼ (7.37). ◻︎

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