Ten years after she got her first world title, and in somewhat different conditions to Friday on a chilly night in Helsinki, Tianna Bartoletta pulled out all the stops and flew out to a world-leading distance of 7.14m with her last jump to turn bronze into gold..
With the temperatures hovering around the mid-20s on a balmy Beijing night, Bartoletta became only the second athlete to regain a title after a gap as long as a decade, the only other one also being a long jumper, the German great Heike Dreschler who won in 1983 and then again in 1993.
In a competition which saw the seasonal superlatives given a sizeable shape up, Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic leapt a national record of 7.01m with her first attempt to take an early lead, with Canada’s Christabel Nettey having also jumped 6.95m earlier in the first round.
Bartoletta, after a first-round foul, showed that her problems in qualifying were definitely behind her with a 6.95m jump in the second round but then Great Britain’s Shara Proctor, sixth in both 2009 and 2013, shot into the lead with a terrific effort of 7.07m in the third round, a nine-centimetre improvement on her own British record set last month.
In the fourth round, with Proctor now jumping last after the change in the order, the Briton got in a 7.01m jump, while Spanovic consolidated her second place with 6.98m in the fifth round.
Going into the sixth and final round, the medal positions had not changed since the third series but Bartoletta then uncorked her winning distance, which was also a personal best by two centimetres.
She had a nervous minute or two as firstly Spanovic – who equalled her first-round jump with another 7.01m effort – and then Proctor, who fouled her last two attempts including a big jump in the fifth round when her toe just went over into the plasticine, took their turns but both failed to go any farther.
Nettey was unable to improve on her first-round jump and finished fourth but it was still the best ever performance by a Canadian long jumper at the World Championships, despite her just missing out on a medal.