Spanovic crowned world indoor champion in Birmingham

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Two years ago it was heartbreak for Ivana Spanovic but today in Birmingham it was joy as she won the first global title of her career at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

In Portland, Spanovic led the long jump competition after a final round 7.07m only to see American Brittney Reese come back to overtake her with 7.22m with her last effort.

This time, European champion Spanovic dramatically turned that story upside down with her being the one to respond – after Reese had moved in front.

Spanovic was ahead with 6.89m when Reese matched that in the fourth round to lead by virtue of a superior second jump but then the Serbian hit back with a stunning world-leading mark of 6.96m and her American rival had to settle for silver.

After a silver and four bronze medals on the global stage, now she finally had gold.

'I still cannot believe it even though I was preparing myself for it,” said Spanovic. “Last time I lost the world title in the final attempt so I just wanted to stay focused and waited until the very end.

'I have tried to win this title so many times and finally I managed to produce gold. Brittney Reese is a huge personality, she is a special athlete.”

A year on from that glorious day in front on her own fans when she became European indoor long jump champion in Belgrade, Spanovic had set the tone in the best way possible when she opened with her brilliant 6.89m and the message to the rest was catch me if you can.

At first they couldn't. Reese ended the opening round with 6.76m and was relegated to third by the next round when Germany’s Sosthene Moguenara-Taroum jumped 6.85m, the distance which would bring her bronze.

Round four proved the decisive part of a superb competition as Reese reached 6.89m and looked like she might be warming up to go even further after Spanovic had recorded 6.74m and a foul in rounds two and three.

But then the Serbian composed herself on the runway, took her time and decided it was her moment. When she landed she knew it looked good and so it proved.

Reese had no response, with 6.72m and 6.64m and Spanovic did not jump again. She did not need to. Gold was hers - at last.

Equally happy in third was Moguenara-Taroum who quickly set her sights to the summer and the European Championships in Berlin.

She said: 'It's incredible I have my first indoor medal. Next is the European Championships in Berlin which I am really looking forward to.'

Just like Spanovic. “I have two goals this summer: to win the European gold and the Diamond League trophy.”

Lavillenie back to his best with third world indoor title

Renaud Lavillenie put the memories of an injury-ridden 2017 season behind him by defending his world indoor pole vault title in Birmingham, defeating one of the deepest fields ever assembled for a major championships.

With nine vaulters in the field boasting season’s bests in excess of 5.85m, Lavillenie delivered an economical - and ultra-confident - performance, clearing his opening height of 5.70m on his first attempt before passing at the next height of 5.80m.

Lavillenie kept a grasp on his title with a first-time clearance at 5.85m which would have been sufficient to win on countback but the Frenchman won by one clear height, clearing 5.90m on his second attempt before three attempts at 6.00m.

“The competition was a real battle,” said Lavillenie. “The competition was very long and very intense as you can see with seven athletes trying to jump 5.90m.”

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Reigning world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks won silver on this occasion and reigning European indoor champion Piotr Lisek added to his burgeoning medal haul with bronze, also at 5.85m.

An unprecedented eight vaulters cleared 5.88m or higher in Clermont-Ferrand last weekend and the standard of competition was of the highest order in Birmingham.

Six vaulters cleared 5.80m or higher, including former world champion Raphael Holzdeppe from Germany and inaugural world U18 champion Emmanouil Karalis from Greece. They finished equal fifth with the Greek pole vaulter, who is still only 18, adding another two centimetres to his lifetime best.

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