Craft gets Europe's junior stars off to a great start in Barcelona | 11.07.2012
|Shanice Craft of Germany won the shot put gold
with a world-leading mark of 17.15m on day one
of the World Junior Championships in Barcelona
The 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships discus gold medallist arrived at the championships with a personal best of 16.06m, which she achieved indoors this year, but by the end of the first day of the championship she had improved on that mark by more than a metre.
Craft had showed she was in great form earlier in the day when she threw 16.41m in the qualifying rounds, no less than 35 centimetres better than she had ever achieved before, and then produced a her massive winning throw with her first effort in the final.
No one else could get near that mark, not even Craft herself who had two throws of 16.12m followed by two fouls. She then passed her final effort with the title already in her grasp and finished more than half-a-metre ahead of the best of the rest of the world.
"I'm shocked, it was such a big surprise. Even my throw in qualifying was a surprise because I had a cold last week and could barely train," she reflected. "In the final, I followed the old throwers' motto of get a big throw out with your first attempt, my coach told me to do this to get the other girls, what's the word, perhaps worried will do."
"But even I was amazed at how far it went," explained the Mannheim teenager.
"I was not expecting even a medal. This is my first championship as a shot putter. I had hopes that I can do something in the discus, in which I've won medals in the past but I've had so few competitions in the shot this year."
Craft's gold medal for the first field event to be contested at these Championships will hang alongside the pair she's won at what she still considers to be her primary event, the discus, at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships.
Great Britain's Emelia Gorecka started the European medal haul when the 2011 SPAR European Cross Country Championships junior women's winner took a gutsy 3000m bronze medal in a personal best of 9:09.43.
Gorecka pushed the pace three laps from home and was still in pole position coming into the final straight but just ran out of steam as the Kenyan winner Mercy Chebwogen and then the Ethiopian silver medallist Hiwot Gebrekidan went past her.
Not turning 19 until next January, Gorecka is still young enough to contest next summer's European Athletics Junior Championships in the Italian town of Rieti and will now be the long-distance favourite, although she may yet choose to contest the 5000m after taking a silver medal at the age of 17 last year in Tallinn.
There were also some very promising European performances in the preliminary rounds held on Tuesday.
Great Britain's Adam Gemili lead the 100m heats with a comfortable looking 10.37 while his team mate Jessica Judd was similarly the fastest of the women's 800m heats in 2:02.71.
Ukraine's 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships gold medallist Anastasiya Tkachuk was barely pressed when winning her heat in 2:04.19 and, immediately behind her, Iceland's 16-year-old Anita Hinriksdóttir secured her place as one of nine Europeans in the semi-finals when clocking a national junior record of 2:04.74.
Swedish javelin thrower Sofi Flinck, who only turned 17 on Sunday, also impressed as one of only two automatic qualifiers for the final, throwing a national junior record of 58.16m.
Poland's Wojciech Praczyk, the best junior men's discus thrower in the world this year after his 64.22m in Bialystok on 24 June, unleashed the best effort of the qualifiers in his event with 60.72m.
Russia's recently minted world long jump record holder Sergey Morgunov, and another winner from Tallinn last summer who is hoping to triumph on the global stage after taking a continental title, is the only junior over eight metres this year and unsurprisingly led the qualifiers when he flew out to 8.01m with his second attempt.
In addition to Morgunov, Europe's will be well represented in Wednesday's final with Germany's Stephan Hartmann (7.74w), Frenchman Guy-Elphege Annouman (7.73w) and Denmark's Andreas Trajkov (7.72w) and progressing by right as well.
Full results and event reports from the IAAF World Junior Championships can be found here.