We're two days deep in to the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015 and we're having an absolute ball. This is what has had us smacking our lips, doffing our caps and waving our hands in the air like we just don't give a damn after the first four sessions.
A moveable feast
When it’s not moonlighting as an athletics venue, El Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero normally hosts soccer matches. In keeping with that, the high jump and shot put areas switched ends at half time on day one.
It soon dawned that this wasn't a nod to the stadium's day job, but in fact a purely practical decision, with the running of the girls' javelin forcing the furniture rearrangement. Nonetheless, SPIKES enjoyed the quirk, not least because it gave us a great view of Adrian Piperi’s 22m throw that won him shot put gold late on Wednesday night.
High jump high jinx
The high jump round of the decathlon delivered two nuggets of particular interest. The first was the then-leader Hans-Christian Hausenberg jumping shoeless (apparently he used to do the same in the long jump, too). He slipped on his first attempt at 1.93m, and fouled out at that height. Still, a barefoot 1.90m in the rain is as impressive as it is foolhardy.
Nugget two was Niklas Kaul. In a dazzling display of efficiency, the German cleared nine heights at the first attempt, waving goodbye to his previous 1.90m PB and the rest of the field in the process. He eventually bowed out with a best of 2.05m. For the record, he was wearing shoes.
…about that decathlon
The Cali champs are the ninth edition of the 17-and-under athletics spectacular, but they are the first to feature a decathlon.
It was the aforementioned Hausenberg who set the early pace on day one, but on his tail constantly was Frenchman Ludovic Besson. The two traded blows up until event nine, when no-messing-around high jumper Kaul unleashed a monster 78.20m javelin throw that catapulted him into the lead. The German rounded off his champs with a PB in the 1500m to become the first ever decathlon world youth champion. Silver medal went to Besson – who posted an incredible seven PBs in the ten events – while Hausenberg held it together to claim bronze.
In our eyes, every single one of them is a champion, no matter where they finished. Watching these burgeoning superhumans is genuinely awe-inspiring, depressing and humbling in equal measure. We also haven't got a clue where they find the time to do homework in amongst training for ten different events.
A star earns her stripes
The world took notice when Candace Hill ran a 10.98 100m last month. Now she has a world championship crown to go with that world youth best.
She got faster in every round, running a championship record 11.08 in the final to win ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Khalifa St Fort, who herself ran a PB 11.19.
We asked Hill to sum up how she felt in three words. “Happy, blessed and surreal,” she said. We’d like to add humble and fast to that list.
Knees up Sani Brown
Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown came in to the champs as one of the athletes many commentators were hanging their hats on to win 100m gold. He did not disappoint, and just as impressive as his win was his consistency (which, we realise, sounds like a line straight out of This Is Spinal Tap).
He set a new champs record in the heats in 10.30, matched it in the semis, and then shaved it down to 10.28 in the final. If he were a long jumper you’d call it an immaculate series. As it was, it was just a remarkable way to win gold.
Can throw will throw
A multi-eventer that you won’t see competing in any multi-events is Sophia Rivera. The American thrower competed in both the shot put and javelin finals, even though they were running at the same time. Rivera has got previous: at this year's Kansas Relays she bounced between throwing the spear and dropping bombs, and actually came out of it with a javelin PB.
So while her rivals in Cali could kick back and relax between throws, Rivera was walking to opposite ends of the infield, changing her spikes and winding up a throw. For her troubles, the 16-year-old was rewarded with a silver medal in the shot put. It was the least she deserved.
We realise that blasting music around an athletics stadium during events isn't to everyone's tastes, but the DeeJay in Cali is taking requests via social media platform de moda Snapchat. The result has been a distinctly youthful soundtrack with a vibrant Latin twist.
Listening to the latest boppers from the hit parade has made a late twenties guy like me feel like a teenager all over again. Search for the fountain of (world) youth: over.