Miltiadis Tentoglou in the long jump at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)
Just as he had done when winning the Olympic title two years ago, Miltiadis Tentoglou produced the best leap of the night in the final round to win the long jump at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
The Greek jumper is already a five-time champion at the continental level, having won two outdoor European titles and three indoors.
He is also the Olympic champion and world indoor champion, so by winning in the Hungarian capital tonight, he completed his set of global honours. So that’s eight major titles at the age of 25.
He had to work had for this one, though.
He started well, leaping 8.50m (0.6m/s) to take an early lead. But Jamaica’s Wayne Pinnock – who led the qualifying round with a world-leading PB of 8.54m – responded just minutes later with an opening effort of 8.40m.
Defending champion Wang Jianan also started well, jumping 8.05m, but he was soon bumped out of the top three by Pinnock’s Jamaican teammates in round two, as 2019 world champion Tajay Gayle jumped 8.17m and Carey McLeod went out to 8.27m.
Tentoglou recorded a foul in round two, but Pinnock leaped 8.50m to move into the lead on countback.
Tentoglou’s 8.39m leap was the only significant mark of the third round, though it still wasn’t enough to gain the advantage on countback. Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer, bronze medallist in Oregon last year, had en evening he’ll be keen to forget. As has often been his downfall, he started with two fouls. He salvaged a legal jump with his third effort, but the distance – 7.87m – was only enough for third place, so he didn’t advance to the final three rounds.
The positions among the remaining finalists remained the same in rounds four and five, Tentoglou adding an 8.30m leap to his series with his penultimate effort. McLeod also had a rather spectacular mis-jump in round four, flying high into the air and crashing sideways into the pit.
But everything changed in the final round.
Gayle, displaying his best championship form since his 2019 world victory, went out to a season’s best of 8.27m with his final jump, moving ahead of compatriot McLeod on countback into the bronze medal position.
Tentoglou was next to jump, and he nailed his effort, sailing out to a season’s best of 8.52m to move into the gold medal position, just two centimetres ahead of Pinnock. It was Tentoglou’s joint third-best mark of his career, equal with his winning mark from last year’s European Championships.
Pinnock had one attempt with which to respond. He jumped 8.38m – still farther than his pre-championships PB, but just his fourth-best jump during his time in Budapest – so he didn’t improve on his position, meaning gold was Tentoglou’s.
“The only gold medal I was missing is now mine,” said Tentoglou. “I stayed calm after my first attempt of 8.50m. I was sure that Pinnock had a lot to add. He is very strong and will give much more next year.
“I wanted to jump more than 8.50m and I managed to do that in the last round but I left my foot in the sand and lost an even bigger jump. It was a great competition, a great battle, better than last year. Now I'm going to defend all my titles.”
“When he pulled that off, I couldn't believe it,” said Pinnock, the 2022 NCAA champion. “But then I could, of course – I know what he's capable of. I just knew he had it, but I just didn't know he would do it, that he would pull it off at that moment. But this is still a silver medal. It's really a dream come true. Watching people like Tentoglou gave me the motivation as a youngster to reach the top. And now I'm there, nearly there.”
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
|MEN'S LONG JUMP MEDALLISTS
|Miltiádis Tentóglou 🇬🇷 GRE
|Wayne Pinnock 🇯🇲 JAM
|Tajay Gayle 🇯🇲 JAM
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