Mariya Lasitskene became the first athlete in history to win three successive world high jump titles tonight, a feat not even achieved by world record-holders Stefka Kostadinova and Javier Sotomayor - both of whom are arguably the all-time greats of the event.
Still only 26, Lasitskene will certainly be in this discussion in the not too distant future after another immaculate display of high jumping on the fourth day of competition at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha but plaudits also go to Ukraine’s silver medalist Yaroslava Mahuchikh who had her night of nights on her senior debut in a major championships.
Mahuchikh has dominated age-group competitions since winning the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships and the 18-year-old jumped outstandingly in the Khalifa International Stadium. After keeping herself in medal contention with a third-time clearance at 2.00m, Mahuchikh dislodged the world U20 record which had stood since 1986 with a first time 2.02m clearance before nailing 2.04m on her third attempt.
Having already added four centimetres to her lifetime best and three centimetres to the world U20s record to yield silver on her World Championships debut, Mahuchikh elected not to contest 2.06m - a height which she opined would come "maybe in a few years" - which ensured the world title would remain in Lasitskene’s hands.
“If Yaroslava decided to jump 2.06m, I also was ready to extend our fight,” commented Lasitskene before paying tribute to her Ukrainian rival. “I was really surprised by her shape and how adult and strong she acted in the field.”
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Lasitskene never relinquished the lead over the course of the final, clearing eight successive heights between 1.84m and 2.04m on her first attempts before three tries at a prospective Russian record of 2.08m. "I wanted to improve the Russian record but all three attempts came to nothing," she said.
It was another masterclass from Lasitskene who "struggled for every height" and the quality of her jumping and her stoic demeanour defied the internal and external pressures she faced ahead of her title defence.
"Honestly, the most difficult part of tonight's event was the mental battle. The more experience you get, the more responsibility you have," said Lasitskene. "My whole country expected me to be on the top of the podium. To win this competition, I had to cope with this pressure."
Vashti Cunningham from the United States won bronze at 2.00m on countback ahead of Mahuchikh's teammate Yuliya Levchenko, the reigning silver medallist. On the return from maternity leave, Poland's world bronze medallist Kamila Licwinko cleared a season's best of 1.98m to finish a credible fifth with reigning world U20 champion Karyna Demidik from Belarus sixth with 1.96m.
Stahl upgrades his silver medal from London with gold in the discus
Daniel Stahl missed out on the world title by two centimetres in 2017 but the Swede amassed the three best throws of the final to secure the discus title. He fulfilled his season-long promise by sprinting out of the throwing circle for the sixth time, arms aloft.
Stahl surpassed the 70-metre line three times in this very same stadium at the start of the summer season in the Doha Diamond League but a throw of 67.59m proved sufficient to clinch the title ahead of Jamaica's Fedrick Dacres (66.94m) and Austria's Lukas Weisshaidinger (66.82m). Stahl paid particular tribute to his long-time coach Vesteinn Hafsteinsson who represented Iceland at four successive Olympics.
"This is my eighth year with my coach. This year has been about hard work, improving my technique and travelling around the world and winning a lot of meets," said Stahl. "I had two goals: to make it to the final and then win gold. I am thankful to my coach, my family and all friends in Sweden, Finland and around the world."
Still not in top form after undergoing surgery in the middle of the season, Lithuania's reigning world and European champion Andrius Gudzius finished 12th with 61.55m, his only valid throw of the competition.
Steven Mills for European Athletics