DOHA, Qatar — Tajay Gayle found his best form at the right time as he created history when capturing gold for Jamaica in the men’s long jump at the 2019 IAAF World Championships here in Doha on Saturday.
Gayle, who squeezed into the final on Friday, turned things around in the medal competition to lead from starter to finish.
The MVP conditioned jumper blasted out into the lead with a personal best of 8.46m with his opening attempt, which stunned the entire field.
National Record and WL Jump
He then improved his lead in the fourth round — cutting the sand at a world-leading 8.69m to break the Jamaican national record of 8.62m, set by James Beckford in Orlando, Florida in 1997.
The effort is also the 10th best on the all-time long jump list.
With victory in sight, Gayle, who became the first Jamaican man to win a gold medal in a field event at the world championships, opted to skip his last two remaining attempts.
“I just focused on one thing. I did not let anything disturb or distract me, I was focusing on what I was supposed to do, that was the main thing,” the Jamaican champion said.
Gayle Turns It Around In 24 Hours
“Yesterday, I was overthinking some stuff. But there is nothing to think about on the run-up. This 8.69m jump was a perfect jump for me.
“I am very grateful for that, I am the first Jamaican to give my country a gold medal in the long jump. Breaking the national record is great. No, I did not have any long jump idols.
Finishing second to the Jamaican was Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the USA with an effort of 8.39m, while Cuba’s pre-event favorite Juan Miguel Echevarria had to settle for the bronze with 8.34m.
Echevarria, who entered the competition as the world-leader, was a bit disappointed with the final result.
“I am not satisfied,” he said. “This year has been challenging. I have never competed this late in the season, but I am happy have to have won the first medal for Cuba here (in Doha).
“I am healthy and looking ahead to next year.”
Defending champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa was unable to defend his title, finishing fourth with a best mark of 8.28m, accomplished in the sixth and final round.