Alexandra Emilianov in the discus at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Getty Images)
Moldova's Alexandra Emilianov completed the full set of age-group titles in the discus at the age of 18 at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Emilianov came away with a bronze medal two years ago but that performance came less than a week after she won both the shot put and discus titles at the European U18 Championships in Tbilisi which was her main focus of the season.
But two years stronger and focusing on just one event this time around, Emilianov dominated the final in her last season in the junior ranks. After a first round foul, Emilianov - who trains and studies at the University of Kansas - set the standard in the second round with 57.06m before extending her lead with 57.89m in the fifth round.
By contrast, second-ranked Jorinde van Klinken was contesting the shot put and discus finals on back-to-back days and after winning bronze medal last night, the the Dutchwoman’s challenge for a second medal didn't materialise, finishing a lethargic seventh with 50.61m. United States' Alyssa Wilson, who has made the final in three throwing events in Tampere, was tenth with 46.77m but has one more chance to come away with a medal in the hammer final on Saturday.
Emilianov picked up just Moldova's second gold medal in championship history but the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for home favourite Helena Leveelahti. The still conditions might not have proved ideal for the discus throwers who express a penchant for some wind in the arena but the 18-year-old smashed the national U20 record on home soil with 56.80m.
"I felt there was a lot of pressure on me," said Leveelahti, who didn't elicit any signs of nerves as she surpassed her pre-competition lifetime best twice. "I expected a big throw but not that big of a throw. The best throw - I felt it immediately. I know it would get me a medal. I felt fantastic when I saw the result. I wanted to show the Finnish people I could throw far."
Emilianov and Leveelahti warmly embraced and exchanged pleasantries after the contest and they will also cross paths at the European Championships in Berlin next month. Emilianov had already surpassed the European Championships qualifying standard with her world U20 leading mark of 60.24m and an added bonus for Leveelahti was that she also surpassed the qualifying mark with her silver medal-winning throw.
Cuba’s Silinda Oneisi Morales extended her country’s rich tradition in the event with bronze after a lifetime best of 55.37m.
Steven Mills for the IAAF