Malaika Mihambo and Miltiadis Tentoglou (© Getty Images)
Men's long jump
Mondo Duplantis is not the only European field eventer who will be looking for the final piece of a major championship gold medal jigsaw at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Miltiadis Tentoglou might not have ventured into world record territory just yet but, like the Swedish prince of the pole vault, the 24-year-old Greek long jumper has claimed Olympic, world indoor and European outdoor and indoor titles in his event.
The one prize he has yet to secure is world outdoor gold. A lowly 19th in qualifying as a 19-year-old in London in 2017 and 10th in the final in Doha in 2019, his gold-plated competitive instinct – and record over the past two years – suggests his luck could well be in at the third time of asking on the World Championships stage.
In the Olympic final in Tokyo a year ago, Tentoglou’s dramatic last-gasp 8.41m snatched the gold medal from the stunned Juan Miguel Echevarria, courtesy of a superior second-best mark.
The Cuban, who jumped a monster 8.68m in 2018, has not been seen in a competitive arena since. His absence in Eugene is another factor in favour of Tentoglou, who took the world indoor title in Belgrade in March with 8.55m, moving him to sixth on the world indoor all-time list.
He has yet to be beaten in the outdoor season, having nailed eight wins out of eight, including Wanda Diamond League successes in Rabat, Oslo and Stockholm. His victory in the Swedish capital on 30 June, in his final major test before heading for Eugene, underlined his formidable mettle.
After four rounds Tentoglou found himself down in third place with a best of 7.81m – behind the 7.98m posted by Thobias Montler, the Swede who took world indoor silver behind him in Belgrade, and Croatian Filip Pravica’s windy 7.82m.
Just as the home crowd were scenting an upset to celebrate, the Olympic champion uncorked a mighty 8.31m to secure victory in the penultimate round, just five centimetres shy of the season’s best he set on home ground in Argostoli on 14 May.
Not that Tentoglou heads to Oregon with the 2022 world lead. That stands at 8.45m to Simon Ehammer, the multi-talented Swiss athlete better known as a decathlete.
Simon Ehammer in the decathlon long jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 (© Getty Images)
Indeed, it was during the decathlon in the Hypo Meeting at Gotzis in Austria on 28 May that the world indoor heptathlon silver medallist smashed the long-standing Swiss record – improving the world decathlon long jump best he had set in Ratingen just three weeks previously by 15 centimetres.
The 22-year-old has decided to concentrate on the long jump at the World Championships and return to the decathlon at the European Championships, which begin in Munich on 15 August.
Since his quantum leap in Gotzis, Ehammer has contested two Wanda Diamond League meetings, placing second to Tentoglou in Rabat and third behind the Greek and Montler in Oslo.
Not that the European U23 long jump champion is likely to be the only major threat to Tentoglou in Eugene.
Montler stands joint fifth on the 2022 world list with 8.27m, one place and one centimetre behind Uruguay’s Emiliano Lasa, together with Japan’s Yuki Hashioka. Jeswin Johnson of India is close behind with 8.26m.
Equal second in the 2022 global order alongside Tentoglou with 8.36m, however, in an Indian hoping to ride the wave of inspiration that took Neeraj Chopra to Olympic javelin gold 12 months ago.
Murali Sreeshankar jumped his 8.36m, a national record, on home soil at the National Federation Cup meeting at Thenhipalam on 30 April. He backed it up with an 8.31m victory in Athens on 25 May.
The 23-year-old was seventh at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 in March, jumping 7.92m. He finished 12th in qualifying at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and 13th in qualifying at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year.
“The experiences in Doha and Tokyo have been invaluable,” Sreeshankar maintains. “The setbacks have made me mentally tough.
“I had a decent result in Belgrade in March. Step by step, I am getting better.
“Neeraj’s Olympic gold has made a huge impact on Indian athletes. It made us believe that we too are capable of good performances in the big events.
“Neeraj and I shared a room during the Tokyo Olympics. He motivated and supported me after my poor result. He told me that I still have time. ‘I believe in you,’ he told me. It felt great coming from someone like him.”
Reigning champion Tejay Gayle also features on the entry list, although the Jamaican has yet to venture beyond eight metres this season, standing joint 64th on the world list with 7.97m.
Other potential podium contenders include world indoor bronze medallist Marquis Dendy of the US and the third and fourth placed jumpers from last year’s Olympic final, Cuban Maykel Masso and Spain’s Eusebio Caceres.
Women's long jump
Malaika Mihambo is the woman with the gold-plated credentials, having brought her major championship Midas touch to bear at the last World Championships final in Doha three years ago and at last year’s Olympic Games – and at the 2018 European Championships for that matter.
The 28-year-old German also stood at the top of the 2022 world outdoor list until the weekend before the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. No one had been able to match the 7.09m Mihambo leapt at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Birmingham back on 21 May – until Australia’s Brooke Buschkuehl (nee Stratton) jumped 7.13m (1.8m/s) at the MVA meet in Chula Vista in California on 9 July.
Back in May, Mihambo was hopeful of getting close to the mighty 7.30m that secured her the world title ahead of the stunned Maryna Bekh-Romanchukh of Ukraine in Doha three years ago.
Eight weeks on, her next best effort is 6.85m, which she jumped at the German Championships in Berlin on 26 June.
Six other women have bettered that mark, though Tara Davis (who beat Buschkuehl with a windy 7.24m at Chula Vista and notched a legal 7.03m) and Monae’ Nichols (6.97m) won’t be among Mihambo’s rivals in Oregon, having finished outside the top three at the US Championships.
The other four are Sweden’s European indoor bronze medallist Khaddi Sagnia, who jumped a lifetime best of 6.95m to secure her first Wanda Diamond League victory at Hayward Field on 28 May, Olympic bronze medallist Ese Brume of Nigeria (6.92m), Ghana’s Deborah Acquah (6.89m) and Bekh-Romanchuk (6.86m).
Mihambo has won five of her seven outdoor competitions this year but, just when she looked to have got back into the groove following her narrow loss to Bekh-Romanchuk at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome on 9 June (6.85m to 6.79m), she slumped to a fifth-placed finish in Stockholm on 30 June, jumping 6.72m.
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
Britain’s Lorraine Ugen was the big winner in the eve-of-Eugene test in the Swedish capital, the two-time world indoor bronze medallist pulling out a fifth-round season’s best of 6.81m to trump Bekh-Romanchuk (6.76m) and Sagnia (6.74m).
Coached by four-time world champion Dwight Phillips in Atlanta, Ugen is not short on confidence as she heads to Eugene.
“I really think I can get on the podium at the World Championships,” the 30-year-old Londoner says. “It’s great to be going on the back of this win. I am building nicely on my indoor season and I feel I can do well in Oregon.”
In contrast, Ivana Vuleta will be taking the Oregon trail on something of a wing and a prayer mission, the 32-year-old Serb having been unable to build on an indoor season in which she retained her world indoor crown on home ground in Belgrade with a 7.06m leap.
The former Ivana Spanovic’s best mark of the outdoor season is a modest 6.66m she jumped for sixth place in Stockholm. She stands 30th on the world list.
Quanesha Burks jumped 7.06m to win the US title, but with the help of an illegal 2.7m/s following wind. A former member of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide track and field team, Burks will have a wave of home support behind her as she strives to improve on the fifth place finish she achieved at the World Indoor Championships.
The 27-year-old from Ozark, Alabama, has experience of taking on the world in a US uniform at Hayward Field. Back in 2014, she finished fifth at the World U20 Championships there.
She made the US team for the 2019 World Championships in Doha but failed to reach the final, placing 14th in qualifying. Having only improved to 13th in qualifying at the Olympics in Tokyo last year, she will not be short of motivation.
As for Buschkuehl, in improving her Oceanian record from 7.05m to 7.13m in Chula Vista, the Australian catapulted herself from joint 44th (with 6.61m) to top spot on the world list. That performance might have come as something of an outlier compared to her other jumps this year, but the 28-year-old has a steady championship record, having placed seventh in the final of the last two Olympic Games and sixth at the 2017 World Championships in London.
For Mihambo, Eugene will be outdoor World Championships number four.
She made her debut as a 19-year-old in Moscow in 2013, fresh from victory at the European U20 Championships. She finished 18th in qualifying.
Two years later, in Beijing, Mihambo reached the final and finished sixth. Then, in 2019, came the stunning 7.30m victory in Doha that places the woman from Heidelberg 12th on the world all-time list.
Anything approaching that in Eugene would surely keep the world outdoor crown securely in her possession.
Simon Turnbull for World Athletics