2019 Rome DL Diary: Considering the Jumps (Women's LJ and Men's TJ)...

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20190606_204420.jpgA jubliant Malaika Mihambo, with a blurred figure behind her, in the Mixed Zone, photo by Stuart Weir, 6 June 2019

Spanovic.JPGIvana Spanovic, in the Mixed Zone, photo by Stuart Weir, 6 June 2019

Stuart loves to write on the jumps....

Jumps

The women's long jump was an absorbing competition. What a pity that it was scheduled for 6.35pm, an hour and 25 minutes before the first race and TV feed, meaning that most of the crowd missed it. World Champion, Brittney Reese, was the early leader, opening with 6.75m. Caterine Ibarguen, the Diamond League champion, overtook Reese with 6.87m in the third round. Reese had complimented Ibarguen at the event press conference but also added that it was unsatisfactory that the world's best long-jumper was really a triple jumper.

Mihambo_Malaika-Rome19.jpgMalaika Mihambo leaped 7.07 meters, a Humongous PB! photo by PhotoRun.net

Enter Malaika Mihambo: 6.90m in round three, 7.07m in round four and 6.89m with her final jump. This was her first ever seven-meter jump and also a world lead. In the competition, she had the three biggest jumps.

I always edit out of flash quotes, the inane "I am happy" - well if you have just won a decent sum of money you are not going to be devastated, are you?

But then Malaika told me she was "really, really happy" to join the 7-meter club, I felt I could allow it. She was not expecting seven meters but was not surprised: "I knew that I was physically in good shape and that it was about time I jumped 7 m. I could have done it last year but I didn't. I could have jumped at European Indoors this year but I didn't". Well she has now.

Reese_BrittneyH-WC17.jpgBrittney Reese, photo by PhotoRun.net

Brittney Reese was not too disappointed with her performance. She took most of last year off to spend time with her son and give her body a rest. 2019 is a long season and she is OK with needing some time to get her rhythm back. She said: "I took the year off on purpose. And part of the purpose was to get some rest. I have been in this business a long time - I'm 33. So I felt I had to give my body a rest. But I'm still trying to get better and have more seven-meter jumps".

Proctor_Shara1-Rome19.jpgShara Proctor, photo by PhotoRun.net

Below the top three there were a number of disappointments. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukraine) jumped 6.64 but with three fouls. Ivana Spanovic had four fouls and a best of 6.62. The four jumpers eliminated after 3 jumps included Britain's Lorraine Ugen and Shara Proctor, both seven-meter jumpers. The 2019 world leading jumper, Chantel Malone (6.90), could only manage two fouls and a 6.27.

Craddock_OmarH-USAout18.jpgOmar Craddock, photo by PhotoRun.net

The men's triple jump had more drama before the event than during, with World and Olympic Champion, Christian Taylor and Will Claye not being in the field because the event could not afford them. Omar Craddock (USA) is in the form of his life, having jumped a PR and World Lead of 17.68, already this year. He won with 17.50 from Pedro Pablo Pichardo (Portugal) whose best was 17.47. Craddock will be pleased with his consistency - six legal jumps, five over 17 meters. While he wasn't on the money in Rome, with a best of 16.69, it was great to see Portugal's 35-year-old, 2008 Olympic Champion, Nelson Evora, in the field.

Craddock, who had spent some of the week coaching kids in Rome, said of his performance: "great phenomenal, tremendous. This is my first Diamond League win in six years as a professional. I am having fun. I saw the kids I had worked with in a camp and that gave me a boost".

He then returned to a theme that he had talked to me about earlier in the week, the rumor that the Triple Jump will be dropped from the 2020 slim-line Diamond League program. He reiterated his concern: "I heard that the Diamond League wants to remove the Triple Jump from the event so I wanted to show that we are good entertainers".

At least the Rome Triple Jump was part of the main program, taking place when everyone was in the stadium - even the President of Italy, so I am told.

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