Tianna Bartoletta can once again call herself a world champion in the long jump. Appearing in the final for the first time since winning at Helsinki in 2005, the sprinter who was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. relay team at the 2012 Olympics reached 7.14 meters on her sixth and final attempt at the Beijing World Championships Friday.
“It didn’t matter that national records were being set and people were jumping personal bests,” Bartoletta said afterwards. “I didn’t care, it didn’t make me nervous. Every jump was like, ‘What can I do to make this my best jump?'”
Bartoletta, who turns 30 Sunday, fouled her first, then posted jumps of 6.95, 6.87, 6.62, and 6.94, before the winning 7.14. She ends the reign of three-time defending champion Brittney Reese, who didn’t qualify for the final, mostly hampered by injuries, as the two Americans have now won five of the past six world titles. It’s been a wild ride for the multi-sport athlete who competed in bobsled and won a bronze as Elana Meyers’ brakeman at Lake Placid during the 2012-13 World Cup season.
“In 2005, I was a real long jumper,” Bartoletta began listing her roller coaster resume. “In 2006-07, I was horrible and injured, but I was the reigning world champion and got a bye. In 2008-2012 no jumps, 2013 injured again. But being on the bobsled team, and getting used to the fact I was going downhill on ice, it taught me, I can take off like I used to. It gave me the confidence. If I was crazy enough to do bobsled, I can be fearless enough to get back into the long jump.”
Shara Proctor of Great Britain jumped a national record on her third attempt at 7.07, which stood for most of the competition, but fouled her last two and won the silver medal. It was also a national record for Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic on her first attempt at 7.01, and she repeated the bronze medal she won at Moscow two years ago.
“I’m in love right now,” Proctor said. “I don’t know what to feel. I’m speechless. It’s a silver medal, but last year at this time, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk (was injured and had surgery). I trained really hard, blood, sweat and tears as they say. Everything came together, and there’s more to come.”
Christabel Nettey of Canada was fourth, followed by Britain’s Lorraine Ugen, Germany’s Malaika Mihambo, and Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia. American Janay DeLoach Soukup, the Olympic bronze medalist, jumped 6.67 on her first, before fouling on her second, fifth and six, and she wound up in eighth place.
WOMEN’S 200 METERS
In the fastest women’s 200 meters ran this century, Dafne Schippers clinched the gold medal in 21.63 seconds, the third-best time in history. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34, 1988) and Marion Jones (21.62, 1998) were faster than the 23-year-old Dutch former heptathlete, who won silver in the 100 on Monday.
Elaine Thompson notched silver with what is the fifth-best time in history at 21.66, and fellow Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown was right behind her in bronze at 21.97. Candyce McGrone of the U.S. was fourth in a personal-best 22.01, and Great Britain’s 19-year-old Dina Asher-Smith was fifth at 22.07. The times of the top five accounted for five of the top six times posted this season.
MEN’S 110-METER HURDLES
There have been plenty of miracles on track this week, but it’s a miracle that Aries Merritt is even competing, let alone winning the bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles. It’s been well documented that the American is scheduled to have a kidney transplant early next week, and his season-best 13.04 seconds was six hundredths behind gold medalist Sergey Shubenkov of Russia (12.98). Hansle Parchment of Jamaica won silver in 13.03, and defending champion David Oliver of the U.S. was seventh.