Gayle strikes Doha’s long jump pit
Jamaican long jumper stuns Cuba's favourite Echevarria to claim his country's first gold medal.
The long jump final of the IAAF World Championships in Doha was expected to be a breeze for Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria. Instead, he felt the full force of a Jamaican aptly named Gayle.
Tajay Gayle was not in the list of favourites for the gold, but in a stunning upset, he produced a personal best and the biggest leap in the world this year to defeat Echevarria.
Gayle won Jamaica’s first gold of these championships with a superb effort of 8.69M in the fourth round, leaving even the world record holder Mike Powell surprised. It was the longest jump in a World Championships final since Cuban Ivan Pedroso struck gold with an 8.70M effort in 2005.
Echevarria, under pressure, could not produce his best and had to be satisfied with a bronze medal, with a below par 8.34. American Olympic champion Jeff Henderson nailed silver with an 8.39M effort.
“I just focused on one thing – I did not let anything disturb or distract me. I was focused on doing what I was expected to do,” said Gayle, who had won the Diamond League gold in Shanghai earlier this year.
The 23-year-old’s gold medal was Jamaica’s first-ever success in the event and adding to the surprise element was the fact that Gayle had struggled to come through the qualifiers on Friday.
Gayle had started in superb fashion, with an 8.46M effort powering him to the lead. As it turned out, his first-round effort was good enough to win the gold on the day. A sporting Echevarria acknowledged Gayle had been better on the day.
“I’m happy for him, as for me, I could not produce my best,” said the 21-year-old Echevaria. “I’m not happy with my performance. I have to keep working on those aspects missing today.”
Defending champion Luvo Manyonga was fourth with 8.28 in a competition that never rose to great heights, barring the two leaps of Gayle.