By Brian Homewood
LONDON (Reuters) – American Brittney Reese claimed her fourth world long jump title on Friday after a tense, tight contest in which only six centimeters separated the top four competitors.
Darya Klishina, competing as a neutral athlete after the Russian federation was banned over state-sponsored doping, took silver for her first medal at a major finals after jumping seven meters for the first time in six years.
Titleholder and Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta won bronze, squeezing on to the podium with her last jump ahead of Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic who missed out on a medal at a global finals for the first time since 2013.
Reese won with a leap of 7.02 meters on her third attempt and had to endure a nerve-wracking finale after receiving a red flag on her next three jumps.
The 30-year-old said it was an emotional moment after her grandfather passed away two weeks ago.
“I was doing this for him and I know he would have been cheering for me,” she said. “I’m a stronger person than I probably think I am. It has shown me mentally at my best.
“I’ll be continuing to Tokyo 2020. I’m not done yet, I can assure you.”
Klishina jumped consistently well before producing her best effort in the fifth round with exactly seven meters.
She finished ninth at last year’s Olympics after being cleared at the last minute to be the only Russian track and field athlete to compete in the Games.
“I was waiting many years (for seven meters),” she said. “I wanted to show this result in an Olympic Games, but I did not have a chance with the whole situation around me. Now it was the right time, at a world championships, to jump this.”
Bartoletta began sluggishly and had dropped to sixth after four rounds but saved her best for last with 6.97 meters – still well short of her personal best of 7.17 which she achieved to win in Rio last year.
“I just didn’t get any rhythm,” said Bartoletta who also won Olympic sprint relay golds in London and Rio.
“I was just too late on the board and I couldn’t hit it right. I kept trying to stay mentally strong throughout the competition and it got me a medal but I’m disappointed that I couldn’t deliver my true form.”
Her last jump was one centimeter better than Spanovic’s best which the Serb produced in the second round and gave her the lead. Spanovic, bronze medalist at both the Olympics and the last World Championships, also produced 6.91 with her final jump.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)