Antonios Merlos in the high jump at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018
Greece was expected to contend for the men's hammer title but their first gold medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 came instead in the high jump.
Two gold medals were awarded as Antonios Merlos and Mexico's world U20 leader Roberto Vilches couldn't be separated on countback after they both cleared 2.23m on their first attempts. A jump-off was an option but the two protagonists embraced each other warmly and were more than happy to split the spoils.
It was Great Britain's night in the Tampere Stadium yesterday but it was Mexico's morning. This was their second gold medal of the session after Alegna Gonzalez opened the action with victory in the 10,000m race walk.
Vilches led the world U20 lists but not by much with an early season 2.24m clearance set domestically in Queretaro. Vilches performed up to standard with a first-time clearance at 2.23m but Merlos surpassed all predictions, first by clearing a season's best of 2.19m before clearing lifetime bests of 2.21m and then 2.23m.
Merlos, 19, cleared 2.20m last season but he was only tenth at the European U20 Championships. The Greek now trains and studies at the University of Georgia and finished a creditable fifth at the NCAA Championships in Eugene last month in his freshman year. "I cannot believe it, please someone wake me up!" said Merlos. "I'm the world champion, it's amazing. I believed in myself and I tried hard."
Vilches will be following a similar route to the joint gold medallist and already has his sights set on the 2020 Olympics. "I hope to improve when I go to college in the US next month. It's exciting for me. I hope to make the final in Tokyo, I hope to reach 2.35m and maybe even get a medal - why not?" he said.
There was also a tie for the bronze medal between South Africa's reigning world U18 champion Breyton Poole and the United States' JuVaughn Blake. They both cleared 2.23m but on their second attempts but Poole's first time failure was to prove costly as he led on countback up until that height.
Germany's Luca Meinke was fifth with a lifetime best of 2.21m, improving his best ever mark by four centimetres.
Steven Mills for the IAAF