BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, Mar 3 – Murielle Ahoure blasted out of her blocks to lead Ivory Coast to a 1-2 after scorching to a historic gun-to-tape victory in the women’s 60m at the world indoors on Friday.
Ahoure, with two previous world indoor silvers to her name, clocked an electric 6.97 seconds down the blue track in Birmingham, the fastest time run over the sprint this season.
Ahoure’s teammate Marie-Josee Ta Lou (7.05sec) took silver by five-thousandeths of a second in a photofinish from Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji.
It was not only a first world indoor gold for Ivory Coast but also the first time an African sprinter, male or female, has won the 60m title.
Jamaica’s double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson was fourth and Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, the two-time world outdoor 200m champion, fifth in a field that had no representatives from the United States for the first time in indoor history.
The local crowd were earlier given a treat when Katarina Johnson-Thompson racked up 4,750 points to win the pentathlon, her first global title.
The Briton clocked 8.36sec in the 60m hurdles, managed a best of 1.91m in the high jump, threw an indoor personal best of 12.68m in the shot put and went out to a lead 6.50m in the long jump.
She kept a cool head in the final event, the 800m, winning in a season’s best of 2:16.63, with Austria’s Ivona Dadic taking silver (4,700 points) and Cuban Yorgelis Rodriguez bronze (4,637).
“It’s been a very long hard day but it’s definitely been worth it. As always in the pentathlon there are highs and lows throughout the day. I am so happy to have won,” said Johnson-Thompson.
South Africa’s world outdoor champion Luvo Manyonga was upstaged by Cuban teenager Juan Miguel Echevarria in a thrilling men’s long jump competition that went down to the wire.
Echevarria went out early to 8.28m, Manyonga responding perfectly after botching his first two efforts to soar out to 8.33m on his third to advance to the showdown between the top eight jumpers.
The Cuban landed a personal best of 8.38 before the South African replied with 8.44.
Defending champion Marquis Dendy of the United States then went out to 8.42 with his fifth effort. But up stepped Echevarria, 19, to nail 8.46m for a memorable gold ahead of Manyonga, with Dendy rounding out the podium.
“It was a tough competition, it was very tight with very close margins, but I prepared physically and mentally for the event,” said the Cuban.
“I think I’m in the peak of my career. I’m feeling very physically strong.”
The other gold on offer went the way of Hungary as Anita Marton threw 19.62m to win the shot put ahead of Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd (19.22) and China’s Lijiao Gong (19.08).
France’s Kevin Mayer, world outdoor champion and Olympic silver medallist in the decathlon, was in overnight pole after the first four events in the seven-discipline heptathlon, with the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m to come on Saturday.
And Ethiopian track sensation Genezebe Dibaba’s audacious bid for a double remained on track as the newly-crowned 3000m champion advanced easily to the final of the 1500m.