For five rounds it looked like Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk would become the third Ukrainian woman to win the triple jump world title but in the end the 2022 European champion had to settle for a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 on Friday.
She led the lead with her first round 15.00m – her second-best jump ever after her Munich 2022 winning leap of 15.02m – and followed that up with the following series over her next four jumps of 14.81m, 14.66m, foul and 14.87m.
However, at the start of the final round, Venezuela’s three-time world champion Yulimar Rojas, who had been struggling to find her form, uncorked an out-of-the blue 15.08m to move up from eighth to first and push Bekh-Romanchuk out of the top slot.
Needing a personal best to get back the gold medal, Bekh-Romanchuk put everything into the last jump of the competition, but it was a little too much, she lost control and the jump was ruled a foul.
Nevertheless, Bekh-Romanchuk took her beleaguered country’s first medal at Budapest 23 – and certainly had plenty of popular support in the crowd at the National Athletics Centre – and added this world championships silver medal to another she won in the long jump four years ago in Doha.
"Maybe people saw my calm, focused and confident face but, believe me, nobody knows what I felt deep inside," said Bekh-Romanchuk after the event.
"I was nervous even a bit more than at all previous championships. I just wanted to fulfil all the really hard work I did to get this medal. You cannot imagine how many people helped me to step on the podium tonight, especially during last month when I got a couple of injures. I have been training all taped up from toe-to-head, but I continued to do my job and to follow my dream.
"I jumped 15.00m so easily on the first attempt and I was ready to add more. Unfortunately, it didn't happen today, but I will come back stronger and more confident," she added.
Latvia’s Anete Kocina missed out on a rare world championships medal for Latvia – the Baltic nation having only won two in the past – by just 20cm when she finished fourth in the javelin.
After lying down in seventh place after three rounds she uncorked a throw of 63.18m with her fourth effort to temporarily move up into second place.
Anete Kociņa @wabudapest23 finālsacensībās šķēpa mešanā uzstāda savu sezonas augstāko rezultātu - 63.18m, kas ļauj ieņemt augsto 4️⃣. VIETU! 🇱🇻 #athleticslv #vieglatlētivar #wabudapest23 #worldathleticschampionships pic.twitter.com/p9CF0WU6af— athleticslv (@athleticslv) August 25, 2023
However, Kocina was unable to improve and with both Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi and Australia’s Mackenzie Little overtooking her in the final round she was pushed out of the medals.
Nevertheless, the 2017 European U23 silver medallist can take much credit from her best ever performance at a major senior international championships.
Another European to just miss out on a medal in the Hungarian capital was British sprinter Zharnel Hughes, who finished fourth in the 200m in 20.02 and just came up short in his bid to climb the podium again after his 100m bronze.
Hughes' compatriot Daryll Neita ran a personal best and European-leading time of 22.16 to finish fifth in the women’s 200m final.
Italy impresses in 4x100 heats
A slick Italian quartet of Robeto Rigali, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Lorenzo Patta and Filippo Tortu were the fastest team in the men’s 4x100m heats with a world-leading 37.65.
France and Great Britain will join them in Saturday’s final but both teams will be looking to improve on their changeovers if they are to challenge for medals.
Italy’s women took their lead from their male compatriots and led five European team into their 4x100m final, albeit finishing third in their heat.
Zaynab Dosso, Dalia Kaddari, Anna Bongiorni, Alessia Pavese combining to clock a national record of 42.14 to take more than half-a-second off the previous mark.
Great Britain’s reigning European champion Keely Hodgkinson and her compatriot Jemma Reekie will form the European challenge in the 800m final on Sunday.
Both women had impressive semi-final wins, with Reekie’s notable for her weaving through runners from the inside of the track to the outside and go from fourth to first during the last 40 metres of her race.
Germany’s Leo Neugebauer leads the decathlon overnight with 4640 points after a first day which him open with a 100m in 10.69 followed by personal bests of 8.00m and 17.04m to head both the long jump and shot put.
He finished with a 2.02m high jump and 47.99 400m to have a 30-point advantage over 2022 silver medallist Pierce LePage, from Canada.
France's world record-holder and 2022 world champion Kevin Mayer withdrew after two events at the due to pain in his left Achilles tendon.
World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 full results and timetable can be found here.
Phil Minshull for European Athletics