Historic victories for LaFond and Kerr

Edwin  - CEO March 3, 2024
Updated 2024/03/05 at 12:15 PM
8 Min Read
Thea LaFond celebrates her world indoor triple jump title win in Glasgow (© AFP / Getty Images)/World Athletics
Thea LaFond celebrates her world indoor triple jump title win in Glasgow (© AFP / Getty Images)/World Athletics

 On the final morning session in Glasgow


Thea Lafond in the triple jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 (© Getty Images)

A day after Julien Alfred became the first global medallist and champion from St Lucia in the women’s 60m, Thea LaFond also made athletics history at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 as she achieved precisely the same feat for the Caribbean island of Dominica in the women’s triple jump, Mike Rowbottom reports for World Athletics.


And there was another historic flourish at the other end of the last day’s morning session as New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr took the men’s high jump title to round off an Oceania double following the success of Nicola Olyslagers of Australia in the women’s high jump.


After winning with a clearance of 2.31m, Kerr – Commonwealth champion and a world indoor bronze medallist two years ago in Belgrade – added two centimeters to his personal best in clearing a world-leading 2.36m, much to the appreciation of a Glasgow Arena audience that had stayed seated for this final and the heptathlon pole vault.


LaFond’s landmark achievement came thanks to a second-round effort of 15.01m, comfortably the best record in the world so far this year, making her the first winner of this title since 2014 who was not Yulimar Rojas.


The absence of the three-time winner from Venezuela allowed another triple-jumper to take center stage. Lafond stepped up to claim the first global title for the Caribbean island of her birth, indoors or out, and the first international medal in a women’s event.


The 29-year-old from Roseau also deserved a medal for composure – was it a championship event – as she sat out the next three rounds following an effort that improved her personal best by 11cm and watched the rest of the field strive, fruitlessly, to better it.


Cuba’s Leyanis Perez Hernandez came closest, jumping a season’s best of 14.90m her silver, two centimeters better than the world lead she had established before these championships. Spain’s Ana Peleteiro-Compaore claimed bronze with a season’s best of 14.75m.


Thus, two of the smallest nations in the world by population (Dominica: 74,412 and St Lucia: 179,651) have won gold medals at these championships.


Kerr had looked as cool as Lafond throughout his high jump contest as he earned the title with five successive first-time clearances.


Shelby McEwen of the United States, who arrived for these championships as joint leader of the season’s world list on 2.33m with defending champion Woo Sanghyeok, claimed a first global medal. On countback, he took silver ahead of the South Korean after both had cleared a best of 2.28m.


In celebration of his achievement, the 27-year-old from Mississippi performed an accomplished backflip on the landing mat for his appreciative audience.


Hamish Kerr in the high jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24Hamish Kerr in the high jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 (© Getty Images)

Simon Ehammer of Switzerland, whose efforts to win the European indoor heptathlon title in Istanbul last year ended when he failed to record a long jump distance – despite having won world long jump bronze the year before – is doing everything possible to make up for that disappointment in Glasgow.


Trailing the overnight leader Ken Mullings by 79 points, he lived up to expectations in the opening event of the second day, the 60m hurdles, producing the fastest time of 7.62 – close to his PB of 7.55.


That narrowed the gap, but perhaps not as much as he anticipated. Mullings produced his fourth personal best of this competition, equalling his previous fastest time of 7.76, which meant the gap remained 42 points going into the vertical marathon that is the combined events men’s pole vault.


Once again, however, Ehammer rose to the occasion, winning the event with a clearance of 5.20m, one centimeter below his personal best, as Mullings, with a best of 5.03m, went out on 4.60m.


Meanwhile, the best vaulter on paper, Norway’s Sander Skotheim, with a best of 5.35m, finished second at 5.10m.


Ehammer, not a super strong runner, goes through tonight’s concluding 1000m with a lead over Mullings, who is also likely to find the finale challenging.


Skotheim is a strong runner, but the Swiss athlete currently has a lead of 153 points over him. It will be compelling to watch…


Poland’s European champion, Pia Skrzyszowska, looked ready to challenge for a global medal after qualifying fastest with 7.80 for tonight’s 60m hurdles semi-finals.


Devynne Charlton of The Bahamas, co-owner of the world indoor record of 7.67, eased through her heat in 7.93, seventh fastest overall.


France’s defending champion Cyrena Samba-Mayela also looked in good shape, clocking the second-fastest time of 7.81. Nadine Visser of the Netherlands qualified third fastest in 7.85.


Masai Russell of the United States and Britain’s Cindy Sember, equalling her personal best, clocked 7.89. Sarah Lavin went through as sixth fastest with a personal best of 7.90, with European indoor champion Reeta Hurske a step behind her with a season’s best of 7.97.


The timely last-leg intervention of the previous night’s world record breaker, Femke Bol, assured the Netherlands of victory in their women’s 4x400m heat in a time of 3:27.70. They will be able to include the individual silver medallist, Lieke Klaver, for tonight’s final.


But the fastest qualifying time came from a jubilant home quartet of Lina Nielsen – whose sister Laviai, the British team captain, missed an individual medal by one place last night – Ama Pipi, Hannah Kelly, and Jessie Knight as they set a national indoor record of 3:26.40.


Jamaica was second in 3:27.35, and the Czech Republic third in 3:28.57.


Ireland earned the sixth and final qualifying place with a national record of 3:28.45, with Sharlene Mawdsley clocking the fastest overall split from either heat of 50.48.


The United States, seeking to win its first men’s 4x400m world indoor gold since 2016, qualified fastest for tonight’s final in 3:05.56, ahead of Belgium, which clocked 3:06.27, and the Netherlands, which won their semi-final in 3:06.47.


There was some doubt about the latter result, as an accidental collision shortly after the last changeover saw the baton fly out of the hand of the Czech Republic’s Matej Krsek after contact with the Dutch last-leg runner Ramsey Angela. But it stood.


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