Sprinter Yang Chun-Han of Chinese Taipei (© AFP / Getty Images)
World champion Pawel Fajdek won a historic fourth consecutive hammer title at the World University Games in Taipei City, but the star of the athletics programme so far was Yang Chun-Han of host nation Chinese Taipei.
Yang wasn’t considered to be one of the pre-event favourites for the 100m. Even throughout the rounds, the 20-year-old didn’t stand out, finishing second in his heat and second in his quarter-final. He won his semifinal in a national record of 10.20, but South Africa’s Thando Roto was the fastest in that round, clocking 10.18.
Roto, who earlier this year clocked a PB of 9.95, and USA’s Cameron Burrell, the fastest in the field with a 9.93 PB from earlier this year, started as the favourites in the final. Yang, meanwhile, was just the seventh fastest based on PBs and season’s bests.
But Yang, drawn in lane five, kept his composure as Roto in lane four got off to the best start and held the lead at half way. Burrell in the outside lane was also in contention, but Yang came through in the final few metres to take the victory in 10.22 (-0.9m/s), much to the delight of the home crowd. Roto was second in 10.24 with Burrell a further 0.03 in arrears.
Yang became the first man from Chinese Taipei to win an athletics gold medal at the World University Games. Their only other athletics gold in the history of the event came in the women’s 200m in 1991.
Fajdek leads Polish gold rush
Just two weeks have passed since Pawel Fajdek won his third world hammer title, but the Pole’s appearance in Taipei marked his third competition since the World Championships.
After a foul in the opening round and a safe effort of 72.57m in the second, Fajdek sent his hammer out to 79.16m in round three, a mark which no other athlete came within a metre of. The 28-year-old duly secured his fourth consecutive World University Games hammer title, having won in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Two of Fajdek’s teammates have also won gold medals, putting Poland at the top of the medals table after the third of six days of action.
Marcelina Witek was down in fifth place after four rounds of the women’s javelin, but she launched a lifetime best of 63.31m in the penultimate round to take the lead. Early leader Marina Saito of Japan responded with 62.37m in the final round, but it wasn’t quite enough to regain the lead and she had to settle for silver behind Witek.
Malgorzata Holub won Poland’s other gold medal, clocking 51.76 to win the 400m by 0.07 from South Africa’s Justine Palframan.
Wendrich wins on countback
Just 24 hours after Yang had won a historic gold medal for the host nation, it looked as though high jumper Hsiang Chun-Hsien was about to double Chinese Taipei’s gold medal tally. He cleared 2.26m and shared the lead, having not recorded any fouls up to that height.
But he brought the bar down three times at the next height, 2.29m, while Germany’s Falk Wendrich and Italy’s Marco Fassinotti both went clear on their third try, marking a PB for Wendrich. Both men were unsuccessful at the next height, meaning Wendrich won the title on countback.
In the horizontal jumps, Azerbaijan’s Nazim Babayev won the men’s triple jump with 17.01m, while Romania’s Alina Rotaru leaped 6.65m to take the women’s long jump title.
Dominican Republic’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos clocked a season’s best of 45.24 to win the 400m. Little more than 90 minutes earlier, his younger brother Juander won his 400m hurdles semifinal in 49.31, the fastest time of the round.
Elsewhere, Portugal’s Francisco Belo won the men’s shot put with 20.86m and Jamaica’s Shashalee Forbes took the women’s 100m gold medal in 11.18.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF