BUDAPEST, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan won World Championships javelin gold with her last throw of 66.73 metres on Friday, breaking the heart of Colombia’s Flor Denis Ruiz Hurtado who had been on course for a shock victory from the first round.
Ruiz Hurtado arrived in Budapest with a best of only 63.84 metres – and that was seven years ago – and had never remotely threatened the podium in previous global events.
However, she somehow found almost two more metres with her opening throw of 65.47 for a South American record.
Ruiz Hurtado then endured a nerve-shredding night as her rivals tried, and failed, to match her going into the final round.
Australia’s Mackenzie Little managed a last-round throw of 63.38, which eventually secured bronze.
Kitaguchi, who came into the competition with a world-leading 67.04, was also out of the medals until the penultimate throw of the night secured Japan’s first gold of the championships.
“The key thing was to just believe it, not to try to change anything,” said Kitaguchi, who won bronze 12 months ago.
“Last year my goal was just to get into the final. This time my goal was gold.
“My coach was in the stands and tried to motivate me, he was more or less screaming at me. But I think everything just came together in the last attempt and it was great.
“Javelin is not a very popular event in Japan but I think it is becoming more and more so now.”
Ruiz Hurtado could not respond with her last throw but was delighted with silver after the night of her life.
“I am truly without words,” she said. “I have been dreaming and dreaming and dreaming, and finally that dream turned into reality.
“I am thankful for everyone who has supported me on this road. I cannot wait to get back to Colombia and celebrate this huge achievement with my family and loved ones.”
Little had been well off the pace until a final effort she described as the highlight of her career.
“I couldn’t have asked for more than to come back in the final round and throw myself into the medals,” she said.
“It was so much fun, really the best competition. I had a blast. I came into this ranked high (second) so it was a new challenge to have expectations on the world stage. Now I just can’t wait for more.”
Her compatriot and double defending champion Kelsey-Lee Barber, who sneaked into the final as the 12th and last qualifier with a mere 59.66 metres, finished seventh with 61.19.
Source : Reuters