Beatrice Nedberge Llano in the hammer at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
In the end, consistency won the day for Norway’s Beatrice Nedberge Llano.
Though there were athletes in the women’s hammer final who had thrown considerably further than the 18-year-old this year, none could match her for reliability. In Saturday evening’s final, she proved emphatically why she is the world’s best U20 hammer thrower, taking gold with a best effort of 64.33m.
Llano’s summer had been a model of consistency, throwing over 60 metres at all nine of her competitions, and in Saturday’s final she produced four more efforts beyond the 62-metre barrier to take gold.
She opened with a solid effort of 62.30m, placing her second behind early leader Suvi Koskinen of Finland, who threw 62.49m. In the second round, Llano catapulted herself to the head of the field with a 63.55m throw, but her advantage was a narrow one.
Australia’s chief hope for gold, Alexandra Hulley, had fouled her opening attempt but she soon made her title intentions known, throwing 63.47m to place herself second, just 8cm behind Llano.
In the third round, Llano responded in kind, extending her advantage to 34cm with a throw of 63.81m. Meanwhile, medal favourite Ayamey Medina of Cuba exited the competition. After two fouls and a throw of 58.27m, she languished in 10th position after the third round and was not one of the six athletes eligible for a fourth throw.
Llano’s competitors produced better efforts in the fourth round, but nothing that could put the Norwegian in peril at the head of the standings.
Koskinen fouled her fourth attempt and had to make do with the bronze medal after a single registered mark of 62.49m in the first round. Hulley put everything she had into her final throw, but was disappointed to see the sphere land 62.47m away, leaving her in the silver medal position.
With gold secured, Llano entered the throwing circle for the final time and unleashed the biggest throw of the competition, 64.33m, to extend her winning margin to 86cm.
“It means a lot for me and my country,” said Llano. “Norway is small, so a medal, especially gold, is something big. I’ll continue training hard and in the future I hope to qualify for the Olympics.”
Silver medallist Hulley revealed afterwards that nerves had impacted on her performance.
“On the first throw I hit the ground,” she said. “I was nervous, but in the second round I thought I had to get a good throw out to put myself in the competition, and I did what I had to do to get a medal.”
Finland’s Krista Tervo took fourth place after a best of 62.25m, while there was a noteworthy performance back in fifth from Colombia’s Mayra Gavira, who threw a national U20 record of 62.18m in the fourth and final round.
Spurred on by the home crowd, Polish hope Kinga Leprowska summoned a lifetime best of 60.86m, but it was only good enough for sixth place.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF