Greco smashes his best to take triple jump gold in world-leading 17.70m | 02.03.2013
|Daniele Greco of Italy celebrates winning gold in the
men's triple jump final after clearing a world-leading
17.70m on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Daniele Greco had always looked the man most likely to win the triple jump gold here after his outstanding qualifying performance, and so it proved. But no one could have predicted the manner in which the Italian would claim his title as he effectively secured victory with a massive fourth round effort of 17.70m, eventually finishing 40cm clear of his nearest challenger.
But quality spread throughout this final, as all of the top four finishers broke their personal bests, with the Russian pairing of Ruslan Samitov and Aleksey Fyodorov claiming silver and bronze with 17.30 and 17.12 respectively. Viktor Kuznyetsov was the man who missed out on the podium, but he had the consolation of a 17.02 jump.
The world record of 17.92m set by France's Teddy Tamgho at these championships in Paris two years ago was always going to be a hard act to follow, but Greco – representing his country here after the late withdrawal of fellow countryman Fabrizio Donato, the European champion – came pretty close.
Having arrived with a season's best of 17.07 which stands second in this year's world and European rankings, Greco was clear favourite and he established a first round lead with an effort of 17.00m which he extended to 17.15 in the third round, where Fyodorov hit his peak to secure a temporary hold on silver.
But the whole competition was transformed by Greco's effort in the next round. As he rose from the sand, it was clear that the man who missed a medal by one place at last summer's Olympics had produced a jump well in excess of his indoor best of 17.24, and indeed his outdoor best of 17.47.
As the officials bent over the marker in close discussion, Greco, who had bounded out of the pit in joy, punching the air as he looked up to his enraptured supporters in the stand, had assumed a position of prayer, resting on his knees, with the inevitable TV cameraman hovering in front of him.
"We know the distance is big when they take a long time measuring it," announced Britain's former Olympic 400m bronze medallist Katharine Merry, one of the event's co-presenters. Eventually agreement was reached. The referee spoke into his receiver, the mark came up, and Greco erupted once more with excitement, clenching his fists and clutching at the Italian badge on his shirt. Game over. All that remained was the hunt for silver and bronze.
A final attempt of 16.58 by Kuznyetsov revealed the identity of the medallists. There were three jumps remaining, and the first went to Samitov, who could not improve on the personal best he had set in the fifth round. Fyodorov then failed to improve on his best, and the new champion stepped up for the final attempt. The crowd massively acceded to his request for support, and as the heavy handclaps rang around the arena he accelerated down the runway before triggering the red flage with his take-off. It mattered not.
Greco stood in the sand, arms aloft, before bowing to the audience and accepting his bouquet of triumph.
Greco had offered early evidence of his form here in requiring just one jump to reach the final, becoming the only athlete to better the automatic qualifying mark of 16.90 with an effort of 16.94. Perhaps it was this fact which caused Sweden's former world and Olympic champion Christian Olsson, who had been co-commentating with Katharine Merry on the previous day, to describe the triple jump field here as "a weak one." Olsson - who still holds the arena record of 17.80, set in 2002 - would presumably have had cause to regret that description given the events which unfolded in this final.